While the NFL players and owners squabble over a few billion dollars there are still some guys out there playing football. This morning the Geelong Cats of the Australian Football League started off their season against one of their most hated rivals the St. Kilda Saints. The game (which can be seen on ESPN3 for the next week)was vastly different for us Cats fans, and that was even before the game started.
The Cats have been the dominating team in their sport for the past 4 years, winning two titles in that time and making deep runs in the finals all 4 years. But, during this past off season they lost their coach and best player in the course of a week. They enter this season under new leadership on the field and in the coaches box and most of us fans didn't know what to expect.
I'm happy to say that the Cats won their opening game against the Saints, but sad on few different fronts. Firstly, the Cats lost one of the best players in the league to a terrible concussion. Joel Selwood is the guy who us Cats fans were hoping would step us another level from his already lofty perch that he demonstrated in his first 4 seasons to fill the void left by Gary Ablett Jr's defection. And it looked like he was doing just that early on, but then he went low to pick up a loose ball and took a hip to the head and shoulders that resulted in him being taken off the field in a neck brace and on a backboard. So that was the first thing that made me sad.
The second was the fact that the Cats winning score was 6.12 (48) to 6.11 (47) which is a pittance compared to the scoring we've come to expect from their offence. Six goals is about what the Cats would put on the board in a quarter during their run as the elite team in the league. In response to their unbeatable style of play the rest of the league in general and St. Kilda and Collingwood in particular changed their style to try and slow the Cats rampaging style.
In the end, the Cats won and any win over St. Kilda is worth a lot, so I can't complain too much. But, I really hope that we'll see some more free flowing footy in the months to come as the Cats begin to get comfortable with their new coach, Chris Scott.