2007 AFL Grand Final goes to Geelong's script
Sunday, September 30 2007 @ 10:24 pm ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
The 2007 Australian Football League Grand Final played out just as Geelong would have hoped and Port Adelaide supporters would have had nightmares about. The Cats had been the dominant team all year and there was always a risk throughout the finals series that the other clubs were simply playing off for the right to be belted in the big one.
In hindsight Port fans may well wish they hadn't made it through to the Grand Final. Although their second placing at the end of the minor round meant they had earned a crack at the Cats, there were always question marks over their younger players' ability to handle big game pressure, as evidenced by some of their losses during the year to Adelaide (both times) and Sydney (one from one), teams know for their crushing defensive pressure. Ironically the top placed Geelong ended up with a tougher finals draw, facing the tenacious Collingwood before nearly 100,000 fans the week before, and having squeezed through that they would've been better prepared for a tight final. As opposed to recent thrillers, the AFL's showcase event got two high scoring teams but did they get the two that would put on the best display?
Both sides opened up looking nervous and opportunities were wasted. If Port were to have overcome the favourites they needed to put scoreboard pressure on Geelong from their early chances. Having missed the small opening, the Cats made them pay, lifting their disposal efficiency to near perfect levels for the premiership decider. With their ruckmen winning and the defence streaming forward, there was little Port could do to stop the onslaught. Even the cheap goes that normally come when a one-sided game opens up late were all to Geelong, which made the final margin all the worse.
It was Geelong's first senior flag for 44 years. The 119 point margin was the biggest in AFL/VFL Grand Final history, and was played before the usual Grand Final sell-out, with 97,302 spectators jammed into the MCG this year. It was a year of records with 6,475,521 spectators across the 22 minor round games being the highest ever (average 36,379 per match). Combined with the finals total of 575,424 (average 63,936), the total attendance was the highest in AFL/VFL history.
The Cats also became the 11th team to win the flag since the competition was renamed the AFL and moved into the modern era. It indicates the salary cap and other equalisation policies are having the intended effect. The remaining five sides that are experiencing premiership droughts are Fremantle (no flags in their 13 year AFL history), Richmond (27 years), Melbourne (43 years), St Kilda (41 years) and Western Bulldogs (formerly called Footscray, 53 years). With Geelong looking good for a number of years to come, Port Adelaide relatively youthful, West Coast still stacked with talent and Collingwood and Hawthorn featuring an ominous array of young guns, it seems only St Kilda and Freo have a reasonable chance of breaking through for their long suffering fans in the next few years.
As wild and triumphant as the celebrations in Geelong have been, the opposite was true for Port Adelaide, who today will have awoken to Sunday Mail headlines declaring them a disgrace and shameful. The question is - will the Power be driven to avenge the loss in 2008 or will the scars do lasting damage? The players have just eight weeks before pre-season when they begin the journey to discover the answer.
Final scores: Geelong 24.19 (163) to Port Power 6.8 (44)