With loyal fans and smart leadership, Geelong have been the best team of the year, perhaps the decade. But they must win the 2022 AFL premiership on Saturday to truly cement their legacy
Geelong is a place that still has a sense of itself. Sure, Melbourne might be advancing down the highway, swallowing Werribee, sprawling towards Avalon in a way that could one day make the length of the Princes Highway a concrete conglomerate. But people from Geelong know that they are something different. They define themselves by it. Down that highway, out of the Melbourne footy fishbowl, Geelong Football Club offers one part of that sense of identity.
Geography doesn’t mean much in the AFL anymore. Modern-day Carlton is full of lawyers and the uni student children of wealth, not earthy Italian cafe owners shouting “Woof!” at Ang Christou. Collingwood, Richmond, North Melbourne, the ghosts of Fitzroy, all fuse into an inner-city conglomerate: the surviving commission flats form islands among the hipsters and artists who can still afford it and the rich dullards wanting that reflected coolness while complaining about the noise. Real estate parasites would place St Kilda, Essendon, Footscray, Hawthorn all within the most desirable inner band of a metropolis ballooning beyond. Most Melburnians who follow football now live in a Melbourne that football doesn’t represent.