There's the "edge of your seat" kind of excitement and then there is the mix of excitement, nerves and the unknown that will make you forget you have a seat all together. That's where Inky and I found ourselves for about 3 hours last night, starting just past midnight. The Geelong Cats took to the sodden field of the Melbourne Cricket Ground to try and win their second championship in three years.
Inky and I sat in front of our TV helplessly watching as the Cats and St. Kilda Saints traded goals and fought over loose balls for 120 minutes. It came down to a tie score with just a few minutes left and the Cats summoned the courage to win the individual contests that propelled them to the final two goals and an 80-68 win (12.8 80 to 9.14 68).
It was a frenetic game that had tie written all over it toward the end. In Australia, there is no overtime in the Grand Final, and if the two teams are tied they meet again the following Saturday on the same ground to play it off again. And while delaying the gratification of winning the ultimate prize may seem foreign to us U.S. Americans, it would have almost been necessary in this instance, because I don't know if the 44 men on the field had anything left to give. They quite literally spilled blood and risked their well being to will themselves to the point of being tied at 67 with moments left in the game.
From there the Cats summoned all the magic that they have displayed while winning 65 of their last 75 games and kicked a both a goal and a one point score to lead by 7 with less than a minute to go. After surrendering a point to the Saints the margin was cut to just one goal. From there all outcomes were on offer. St. Kilda could get two quick kicks to win it, or kick one goal to force a rematch one week hence. The Cats could kick out the last few moments of the game two win by one kick. What ended up happening was just as amazing as the previous 119 minutes, with the Cats going the length of the field to kick another goal that only served to push the winning margin to 12 points, which, in the end, didn't really do this game a great service.
When these two teams met on July 7th, the score was also tied with just minutes to go. On that day is was the Saints who won by a score of 14.7 (91) to 13.7 (85). So with out Max Rooke's last goal the tally for the year was Geelong 24.15 (159) to St. Kilda 23.21 (159). Deadlocked, like an arm wrestle between two equally strong competitors. While we won the day, I'm sure the Saints will be back next year looking to exact revenge. I just don't know if my heart can take it.