The Cats: a champion team, a team of mates
Never underestimate the power of camaraderie. It’s the making of a champion team.
Mateship is the very thing that attracts players to sporting teams. The social fabric of a team – and club – is just as powerful as the skill and endeavour of its players.
A champion team will always beat a team of champions. The Cats put this case to rest on Saturday afternoon, after surviving an epic battle against St Kilda in the AFL Grand Final.
The mighty Cats are now branded as a dynasty, one of the greatest teams of the modern era.
What has always struck me about Geelong is its team unity, the mateship shown on and off the field.
This group of fine, young men has slogged their guts out for each other on the training track and on the playing field. They have a deep respect and understanding for each other.
The Cats have a core leadership group, inspired by coach Mark Thompson, which helps to organise unity on the field.
If you want to know why the Cats beat the Saints on Saturday, it comes down to team dynamics - unity.
Another reason why Geelong won ... quite simply, they wanted it more. The pain of defeat stung the Cats after last year’s sickening loss against Hawthorn.
There is too much pride within the team. The Cats hate failure.
Forget the statistics, forget the wet weather, forget the match-ups. These factors have little significance when you have a team that wants to win more than its opposition.
I haven’t mentioned one player yet in this article. That’s because it doesn’t matter – Geelong is a team, a champion team.
I said last week on The Punch that Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett would be a catalyst for the Cats’ win.
In some ways, that’s exactly what happened.
According to the stats, Ablett’s efficiency was 72 per cent, with 25 touches. Norm Smith medallist Paul Chapman’s efficiency was 73 per cent, with 26 touches.
Ablett scored six clearances – the most of any Geelong onballer.
He was voted as Geelong’s top three players. History shows that freshly crowned Brownlow medallists struggle to back up their accolade with a top Grand Final performance.
This wasn’t the case with Ablett – he’s too tenacious and hungry.
I mentioned that the match would be won at ground level. It was. And Ablett was a big part of this crumb-gathering effort in appalling conditions.
In the glorious aftermath of Geelong’s victory, there is one thing that’s certain. The Cats’ unity – and mateship – will continue to build as they face future challenges.
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