It has taken five long years, but the hard work put in by people in the football media and the footy-going public claiming the end was nigh for Geelong has finally paid off with the Cats certain to miss the 2015 finals (barring some sort of multi-club drugs scandal). Certainly these people* take the award for persistence.
The Geelong Cheer Squad will have to finally fold up and store their “Too old, Too Slow, Too good” banner after being able to proudly hold it aloft in each of the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons. Even if Geelong win the Premiership in 2016, with an average age lower than the AFL Commission’s average golf handicap, the Cats’ list could hardly be referred to as “Too old”.
The cleanout of champion senior players is inevitable at the end of season 2015, so the rebuild process cannot begin quick enough and senior coach Chris Scott has been seen scouting polo fields, synchronised swimming tournaments and sepak takraw courts in the Bangkok ghetto searching for even more left-field project recruits. When asked by a semi-conscious drunk (me) about his presence at the Thai foot-volleyball court, Scott replied: “We have plenty of time to develop players now. No need to take ready-made players from steeplechase and gymnastics anymore.”
The real question for the coach, however, remains: how long can the Geelong Board put up with this lack of success? The last time Geelong failed to make the finals (2006), they held a sweeping internal audit which resulted in then-coach Mark “Bomber” Thompson being told that if the Cats didn’t win the Premiership in 2007, he’d be sacked. Only a run of three consecutive Grand Finals and two Premierships saved Thompson from the axe. An axe which finally fell in 2010 when the Cats did not make the Grand Final.
It has been this sort of robotic ruthlessness which has seen Geelong become the powerhouse it is today. Only Chris Scott’s promise to win the 2011 Premiership secured him the senior coach job at the end of 2010. Now that they have failed to make the finals – how long can Scott truly hang on as coach? Surely he must be almost as under-the-pump as Nathan Buckley who famously promised to win the Premiership, the Superbowl and the Olympics in order to secure the top job at Collingwood.
Still, with the number of Premiership players likely retiring at season’s end, Geelong is nothing if not spoiled for choice when it comes to coaching candidates.
The off-season should be one of the most interesting in recent memory with so many greats of the game retiring, so many clubs (not Geelong) actually in a position to win a flag and the sports journalist fraternity FINALLY caught up with the footy public in being sick of the Essendon drugs scandal.
* I will call them “these people” to take the spotlight off the fact that I was one of them.