We're now just over halfway through the season, and what a ride it's been for Geelong supporters? After starting the season with an impressive three Wizard Home Loans Cup wins before running out of steam against St Kilda in the final, we opened up the 2004 AFL Premiership season with three losses. But after thirteen rounds Geelong sits in fifth position, with an 8-5 record and a health percentage of 110% and an eight point buffer ahead of ninth spot. Geelong play four of the last nine matches at Skilled Stadium, and another 'home' game at Telstra Dome (Carlton). Membership stands at just over 25,000, after a very slow start, latent support turning into membership once the bandwagon got going.

Since the potentially demoralising loss to Carlton in Round 2, the Cats have gone from strength to strength; a narrow loss to Sydney at the SCG in Round 3 was followed by the inaugural win over the hapless Tigers at the Telstra Dome. What followed was seven wins from nine matches; the two losses being to Fremantle at Subiaco in Round 5 and Port Adelaide at Moron Park AAMI Stadium in Round 10. Geelong has turned Skilled Stadium and, to a lesser extent, Telstra Dome, into a fortress; but is yet to play a single game at the MCG, in fact Geelong is scheduled to play their one and only game at the MCG in Round 19 against Richmond.

The biggest win was also the most recent; a 28-point victory over triple-reigning Premiers the Brisbane Lions. Other top performances were ending Melbourne's 6-match winning streak in Round 8, in which Geelong fought off a defiant Demon comeback; Essendon at Telstra Dome in Round 9, and the Kangaroos, at Skilled Stadium in Round 12, also the scene for Peter Riccardi's 250th AFL game.

Geelong Captain Steven King returned from his long term achilles injury in the Round 8 win over Melbourne. But the return of King was to be short-lived; King pulled up with a sore hamstring after the Bulldogs clash in Round 11. King has been declared fit for this Saturday night's battle with the West Coast Eagles at Subiaco, as has veteran Peter Riccardi.

Geelong's backline has once again been the mainstay of the team, and has actually improved from last season, thanks to the edition to Josh Hunt and his left boot. Hunt struggled for opportunity and match fitness since making his impressive debut in 2001. His kickouts from goal have launched many sorties up forward, and he's no slouch when kicking for goal, either. 2003 All Australian Matthew Scarlett is a short priced favorite to retain his position in the All Australian team, and this year he may have company, in teammate Tom Harley. Harley and Scarlett are earning a reputation as the best full back - centre half back combination in the league, surpassing Mal Michael and Justin Leppitsch at Brisbane. Harley and Scarlett fittingly played their 100th AFL games together, in the Round 8 win over Essendon.

Darren Milburn and Brenton Sanderson are ever-reliable, Sanderson finding the going a bit tough, missing the odd game due to injury. Milburn shows no sign of slowing down, spending more time in the midfield. Jarad Rooke has all but cemented a regular place in the side, but is within sight of 50 AFL games. Quite a feat, after missing out on TAC Cup Under 18 football and coming to Geelong's VFL side via Casterton. All thanks to his father's VHS tapes. Henry Playfair has been a quiet achiever, although recently falling out of favour, played the first dozen games, mostly in the backline, and relieving Mooney in the ruck, and kicking five goals.

After suffering from a groin injury in pre-season, Gary Ablett made a slow start to the season, but has kicked ten goals in his past four matches. Geelong's forward line has been more potent than any other time since Gary Ablett Senior hung up the boots. Kent Kingsley leads the goalkicking with 31 goals, from centre half forward Ben Graham, 22, small forwards Paul Chapman, 21, and Ablett, 16, midfielder Cameron Ling, makeshift ruckman Cameron Mooney and recruit David Haynes, each on 10. Charlie Gardiner, looking remarkably different from past seasons, has added some bulk to his height and skill, while not kicking too many goals (6), provides an option across half forward/wing.

Cameron Mooney has been one of the finds of the season, having seemingly worn out his welcome at Geelong after another indifferent season in 2003. Mooney has shouldered most of the ruck burden in the absence of Steven King, injury to David Loats early in the season and indifferent form/injury to Paul Chambers. Mooney played mostly in the backline in the Wizard Home Loans Cup, and has played 'down back' as well as kicking goals up forward in the season proper. James Kelly has beaten the second year blues to have a great start to the season.

The midfield, lead by Cameron Ling, is benefiting from the depth of midfielders recruited in recent times. Cameron Ling leads most stats at Geelong; kicks, handballs, marks, third on tackles and fifth on the goalkicking. Ling has been battered from pillar to post, so far two players have been suspended for cheap hits, while countless others escape. Ling's finishing has improved, as has his goalkicking.

Coach Mark Thompson has the luxury of rotating like for like if one matchup doesn't work. New assistant coach Daryn Cresswell can take some of the credit for the motivation and tactics employed so far. David Wojcinski has recently stepped up to spend more time in the midfield, taking over the 'run-with' role James Rahilly held the past few seasons. Joel Corey, who spent some time on the injured list, has been very consistent in the middle. Peter Riccardi is fast becoming the best impact player in the AFL, coming off the bench in bursts. He oozes class - full credit must go to Peter and the coaching staff for the way he's been case managed this season. You can't buy experience, as Geelong found out in the pre-season and Round 2 against Carlton, something that 'Ricco' has plenty of - 250 games.

Three Geelong players received National Rising Star nominations. First was the boy from Shepparton dubbed the new 'Geelong Flyer', Kane Tenace, in Round 6. Next was Andrew Mackie after helping himself to three goals in the Round 8 win over the Demons. Surprisingly, as he after being suspended for striking ex-teammate David Clarke of Carlton in Round 2, Brent Moloney was the Round 11 nomination. Moloney, who has earned the nickname 'Buddha' after taking Garry Hocking's famous number 32 and being tough and determined, stands only 181cm tall but has a thumping right boot, regularly bombing goals from right on or outside 50.

Who's missed out on all the fun? David Spriggs started the season in the AFL but has been in the VFL for the past two months. Ruckman David Loats, recruited from Hawthorn/Box Hill, hasn't managed to find a place, other than a single game in Round 12. James Rahilly found himself on the outer early on while David Johnson battled his way back into the team as a late change, named as an emergency for several matches in a row. Similarly, James Bartel regained his spot in the middle, taking a couple nice grabs to boot. Corey Enright has played just six games, spending the rest of the time either injured or in the VFL. He's probably still in the best 22.

Will Slade, Tim Callan and Danny Foster haven't played a game at all. Steve Johnson spent his time in purgatory after breaking his ankle in an off-field incident late last year, climbing over a fence back into the Torquay Pub. Johnson was one of the differentiators against the Lions, booting two crucial goals in the game-breaking third quarter. Matthew McCarthy, given his chances early on in the season, simply couldn't lose the dreaded Greg Norman-style yips, let alone get a kick. Once he started to show some form in the VFL, poor McCarthy found himself ill; having his appendix taken out after playing his best game yet against Western Bulldogs affiliate, the Werribee Tigers. Tom Lonergan, Cameron Thurley, Mark Blake, Matthew 'Earl' Spencer and Paul Koulouriotis await the chance to make their debut.

I've mentioned just about every player; hopefully the post season review will be just as good. With finals a near certainty, this side of ours is (finally) standing up and becoming a real force in the AFL. This will probably not be the elusive Premiership year, but Bomber Thompson and his team are building a strong side that will challenge in years to come. Enjoy reliving some of our wins, below.

If you have any comments, or want to unsubscribe, please pass them on to me at And remember, as Lance from Lara says: CARRRRN THE MIGHTTYYY CAAAATS!

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B Jensen June 20 2004

THE CATS did what they couldn't for nine years; they have defeated the Brisbane Lions in a Premiership match. After trailing at half time, Geelong dominated the second half won by twenty seven points. Just under eighteen thousand braved the wintry conditions at Skilled Stadium, and were rewarded with a magnificent display from their team. In contract, there were simply too few winners for the Lions; over half the team did not get into double figures (possessions), while for the Cats all but four achieved the feat. FULL STORY

B Jensen June 14 2004

GEELONG weathered the storm that was the Kangaroos in front of 21,700 at Skilled Stadium, victorious by 10 points in Peter Riccardi's 250th game. Geelong remain in 6th spot, on 7 wins, 5 losses. It was a genuine 8 point game; prior to the game the Roos were 4 points behind the Cats and in 9th spot, they're now still in 9th spot but a further game behind the Cats. FULL STORY

B Jensen June 6 2004

GEELONG accounted for the Western Bulldogs in style this afternoon in front of 31,811 punters at a sunny Telstra Dome. The Cats were rewarded with a trophy courtesy of Origin Energy, the 'Western Victoria' cup. Now, if I could only get my $50 for signing my life away to Origin. Geelong holds seventh spot, four points ahead of next week's opponents the Kangaroos. Geelong now has six wins and five losses, the Kangaroos having one less win. FULL STORY

B Jensen May 30 2004

GEELONG lead for most of the day in a thrilling match of the round at AAMI stadium today. But they gave it all away in the second half, courtesy of some poor kicking in the final quarter when goals were needed. After leading by 20 points at half time, Geelong kicked five goals in the third term to Port's eight goals. FULL STORY

Brent Moloney (left) became Geelong's third National Rising Star nominee the day after the loss to Port, bring some consolation for Geelong fans. FULL STORY

B Jensen May 23 2004

51,400 FANS witnessed another stepping stone in Geelong's coming of age at the Telstra Dome last night, as the Cats celebrated Matthew Scarlett and Tom Harley's 100 game milestone by defeating better fancied Essendon by 23 points. Corey Enright returned to the side in sensational form, replacing forward Charlie Gardiner, who reportedly injured his ankle during a midweek warmup. FULL STORY

B Jensen May 17 2004

THE HOODOO CONTINUES, GEELONG defeating Melbourne by a lazy 14 points in front of 21,157 at Skilled Stadium yesterday. Geelong remains in eight position, joined in the top eight by four other Victorian teams, St Kilda, Essendon, the Kangaroos and of course Melbourne. After leading by forty points midway through the third quarter, five Aaron 'Jack' Davey goals brought this lead down to a solitary behind early in the forth quarter. It was the hometown hero, Gary Ablett, who started the fight back and effectively snatched the game back before Melbourne could steal it. FULL STORY



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