Cats and the internet are a match made in heaven however this is not that kind of post. In the week leading up to this now traditional Easter Monday game between these two great rivals of the modern era, a work mate shared his childhood story of a 3000 km family round trip across 4 states instigated by his mother to buy a cat seemingly devoid of any great bloodline or features. With no buy in for the new pet and uncomfortable memories of humid skin attachments to 70’s car seat liquid vinyl, the cat ultimately died through neglect a year later, a fate shared today by Geelong members.
For the Cats today this game has the sense of a journey toward October for only one quarter before the Hawks out muscled out ran, out tackled and ultimately outscored them by 62 points after unfurling their ’14 flag. From the privileged vantage point of the M12 silver seating peering into a retina bursting autumnal sun, it felt like I was watching quarters 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the 2014 Grand Final such is the Hawk hunger to dominate and begin the elusive and dangerous and potentially delusional three-peat quest.
Sweeping all clubs is a new vogue of weight loss, extreme run and carry, ball handler gang tackles and the rebirth of forward pressure arising from the endurance harbingers Port Adelaide. The Hawks display an extreme version of this today. It’s also rubbed on Adelaide who in this round run the Roos into an ever decreasing circle of stunned mediocrity before Adelaide oval’s headlights. Here at the G, I’m shocked to see the weight shed by Cat’s skipper Joel Selwood, appearing on the field as if recently liberated by the Allies.
For Hawk fans, the fast food price cuts mean for under $10 bucks you can joyously chow on a pie and chips, despite the unmistakable flavour of pie top popped cat meat. After a 7 goal to 1 second quarter the game is over at half time. Paul “Poppie” Puopolo sits on the shoulders of the pack for a speccie and subsequent goal to put himself forward as the rounds contender for ‘mark of the year”. After the break it’s a case of how many cat hot coffins and sauce can you devour with the loose change in your pocket as repeatedly the Hawks stream through the corridor looking for vermin. The last quarter is basically kick to kick as both clubs retreat from pressure to regroup for round 2. Taylor Duryea fails to heed this message with a brutal tackle that culminates in Cat Jimmy Bartel’s head bouncing off the centre bounce dot sending him to the back of the queue of the consciousness chip frier.
The Kennet curse is broken, wiped from memory after the 3 wins on the trot by the Hawks and today is the most persuasive. It never was as much fun after Paul Chapman left Geelong. The Cat’s efforts remind me of the sad end of our dairy farm head tomcat Benny who commanded the cat riff raff that seemingly breed overnight in the wake of the earlier discovery of his mother “Lucky” as a kitten in the nearby bush. Lucky joined the 2 other existing cats before committing to a breeding frenzy over the next 8 years. Super fertile and capable of an ever decreasing intervals between gestation periods she came to be top cat by her 3rd generation of offspring. I long wished for a ginger sprog from the black n white fur adorned Lucky until finally one floating nanger gene slipped through Lucky’s quality control only to be snapped up by my up the road pal’s mother despite my protestations. A week later I visited him to find remnants of the gift pressed flat into the concrete, a ginger plaque the only remnants from his mum’s first drive over then repeated ad naseum as her tyres dealt with the pesky problem of cadaver removal. Later another neighbour towed her marooned car out of that same bush bogged with a “client” before turning the type of tricks Lucky had already proved dominance.
Benny was a lump of a cat and when approaching maturity he gave mum Lucky that audacious back paw, we could see the life of truant leadership that awaited him. After terrorising the other cats, Benny took on the muscular dimensions today characterised by Ben McEvoy as he head butted underlings from the bowl and slapped weaker and older cats from his loping high noon saunter. Despite these food withholding techniques, a constant supply of milk saw an obesity epidemic sweep through the collective. Meanwhile Lucky continued to breed and breed, the farm swamped by feline masses. Then one day, Ben was run over by the tractor, crushing his back leg. Unable to walk, he crawled to the grass in shock before a ring of 15 other cats cast a protective circle around. As the dog approached tail wagging to sniff at this catastrophe it was beset upon by a squadron of maniacal claws and teeth. It took a hose to break the lines to get to Ben and then on to the vet who fashioned a thick coat hanger wire up and around his hip and down his leg under this foot to take the pressure of walking. Upon return he could be heard by the sound of his wire peg leg tapping the concrete as his reign of intimidation resumed.
Gradually Benny began to walk through the wire direct on his paw, disappearing up the paddocks for hours returning with various field rodents, baby rabbits, even a fully grown hare clenched frantically within his jaw. Then Ben simply…..disappeared. For a year. Returned. Disappeared again and back a year later, this time with a glazed eye and cauliflower ears from some last stand cat fight in the wilds of the open paddocks. The tractor shirt-front precipitated a series of Jack Kerouac style adventures punctuated by the occasion need to check in, regroup and drift away bored by the listless stomach warming mundanity of daytime cat life overseen once more by Lucky, now post menopausal having hung up her puss in boots.
Eventually something had to be done with the 35 cats beginning to dictate terms domestically. A local “shot” was engaged and a cull of the group ensued. Benny’s last ounce of luck run out with his fateful decision to return just prior. The bodies were packed into spent plastic superphosphate bags for me to dump in the local swamp, obviously prior to our environmental consciousness being raised. As I prepared to toss the last bag, I heard a tortured distorted whimpering meow from within. Shocked I discover Benny was still hanging on, despite the shot that pierced his cerebral hemisphere. The tragedy of his final toughness and resilience was about to finally play out.
The spirit of Benny failed to return to the Cats on Monday. For the sake of a great side, let’s hope that it’s not been culled early in 2015.
Hawthorn 17 21 123 defeated Geelong 8 13 61