Cats’ premiership window will shut in two weeks
GEELONG'S iconic fifteen season long premiership window is still open.
But it will finally slam shut with a thud in two weeks.
The legendary modern day run, led by a cavalcade of Hall-of-Fame stars, that has seen the Cats win three premierships and miss only two finals series in the past 15 years, is about to draw to a perfect, dramatic close.
And 29-year-old premiership-less superstar Patrick Dangerfield, who rose to AFL MVP level again Friday night to help drag his team into a preliminary final, is playing like a man who knows it's now or never.
Because Geelong's change-room is starting to resemble a superhero retirement village.
Dual Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett junior has eluded every opponent that's ever chased him. But in the past two weeks, father time has caught and tackled him.
And it's now extremely doubtful that the eight times All-Australian; who will turn 36 in the first month of next footy season; will play again next year.
Dual premiership defender and cult hero Harry Taylor, 33, is also expected to retire at this season's end, given that he hobbles so badly that old ladies stand up for him on the bus.
The Cats will also start next season without classy All-Australian clearance specialist Tim Kelly, who will leave another giant hole when he heads home to the west.
Gun forward Tom Hawkins, 31, will definitely suit up again next season. And his heroic four-goal performance Friday night, and his impressive 2019 tally of 56-32 both suggest he has not dropped away.
But look deeper, and there are telltale signs that the ultra-reliable key position king, who has won Geelong's goal-kicking for the past eight seasons, will be lucky if he has another whole year at full power.
Triple premiership captain Joel Selwood's birth certificate tells us that he is also only 31-years old. But he's like Monty Python's knight with a "flesh wound". His battered and beaten body, which inspirationally carried his team against all odds again Friday night, will carry him into 2020. But it's fast approaching it's used by date.
The other kick in the teeth for Geelong's 2020 rejuvenation chances, was star North Melbourne ruckman Todd Goldstein's decision last week, to knock back the Cats offer of a three season deal.
One of the major reasons why the Cats have been failing their big game tests every recent September, has been their lack of a top-line ruckman. And game changing big men like Nic Naitanui and Brody Grundy are not only hard to find, but they have become even more valuable in this new 6-6-6 starting position era.
Yes, the Cats, like Hawthorn, do have a recent history of keeping their premiership window open against the trend.
Many feared for Geelong after their legendary four grand final run in the late '80s and early '90s ended with the retirement of all-time greats like Gary Ablett senior, Garry Hocking, Paul Couch, Barry Stoneham and Billy Brownless.
Yet current recruiting guru Stephen Wells was quickly able to find a bigger and ultimately better batch of superstars like Matthew Scarlett, Cameron Ling, Jimmy Bartel, Steve Johnson, Corey Enright, Andrew Mackie, Joel Corey and Paul Chapman.
But if restocking to grab a flag in the Dangerfield era is the next plan, they can't do it with drafted kids. It somehow needs to be done by attracting current stars from other clubs this coming summer.
Because Dangerfield himself may only have two more seasons of full throttle football left in him, before he starts to fade.
It might sound like a feasible Plan B to re-stock and keep the window open. But Plan A, which looked a longshot a week ago, now looks the most realistic. Win two more games, and win a flag this season before the clock expires.