Geelong Cats: Australian Rules
team, in the Australian Football League
Navy Blue and White
Home Ground: Baytec Stadium
, formerly Shell
Stadium, formerly Kardnia Park
History: Geelong are based, naturally enough, in the city of Geelong, 70km to the south of Melbourne, on Port Phillip Bay. Theye the second oldest club in the game, after Melbourne. They date back to 1855, when the Corio Bay Club was created. In 1959 they became the Geelong Football Club. First known as the Seagulls, they became as the Pivotians in the late 1970s (Soemthing to do with their central location for railroads).
The game was disorganised in its early days, and it wasn't until 1877 that Australian Football got its first governing body. Eight of the strongest clubs, Geelong, Melbourne, Carlton, St Kilda, Albert Park, Hotham (North Melbourne), Essendon and East Melbourne, formed the Victorian Football Association (VFA). In the first nine years of the Association, Geelong won seven premierships.
By the late 1890s, the stronger clubs of the Association found themselves having to financially prop up the weaker sides. Geelong and Essendon set about creating the VFL, which started in 1897. The eight foundation clubs were Geelong, Melbourne, Essendon, South Melbourne, Collingwood, Fitzroy, Carlton, and St Kilda.
In 1923, the Cats adopted their present nickname. They'd had a bad start to the season, and a cartoonist suggested Geelong needed a black cat to bring it good luck. Ah, the simple times. In 1924, Edward 'Carji' Greeves won the inagural Brownlow Medal. Then, in 1925, the Cats broke through and won their first VFL premiership. In 1931 they won their second by defeating Richmond, and won their third in 1937 over Collingwood. The 1937 grand final drew 88 500, then record crowd.
The Cats were forced to withdraw from the league 1942 and 43. Travel restrictions and lack of palyers during WW2 made fielding a side very difficult for Geelong.
The remainder of the '40s was quiet for the Cats, but in 1951 they returned to the top with a grand final win over the bombers. They stayed there in 52, winning their second consecutive flag by beating Collingwood. the Cats team of this era included legends of the game such as Bob Davis and Bernie Smith.
Another flag came in 1963. This side included greats such as Graham 'Polly' Farmer and Doug Wade.
The rest of the 60s and 70s were relatively lean times for Geelong. They were usually competitive and produced some excellent players, but couldn't quite translate that into premiership success.
In the mid 1980s, the Cats recruited goalkicking freak Gary Ablett. Ablett helped the side into multiple grand finals, including the 1989 Grand Final, considered to be one of the greatest grand finals ever. Unfortuanately for the Cats, these grand final appearences were always losses. 1989, 1992, 1994 and 1995 all bought Grand Final heartbreak for Cats fans.
In the latter half of the 90s, the Cats slipped back a little. They were still mostly competitive, but never stood out from the pack. With the game spreading nationally, the Cats have lost their once formidable home ground advantage.
Their current side under Mark 'Bomber' Thompson looks quite decent, and could go places, but then again, you can say that for most sides at the moment. Time will tell.