Cats will claw way to a win

IT'S taken all year but finally we get to find out who is the best team of the year.

All year we've been saying that Collingwood is the team is the team to beat and now it looks like Geelong could beat them.

Looking back at last week, Hawthorn can consider itself unlucky not to be at the MCG on Saturday as the Hawks probably should've beaten the Magpies last week but kicked themselves out of the contest.

Saturday's game will no doubt be an interesting clash as I think we've got two sides that really are two great football teams.

Often in a grand final you get a really good side playing against a team that is either on the way up or the way down. Not this year.

The only difference I can see between these two teams is that at the moment the Cats look like they've hit their peak at the right time while the Magpies look to be a fraction past their peak in the past month.

The only way I can see Collingwood winning the grad final this year is if Travis Cloke plays a big one and kicks five or six goals.

There are doubts over ruckman Darren Jolly due to a groin injury and that is something that you don't get over all that easily.

This year football has gone back to the past a bit in that the big men have become really important factors again.

The Geelong ruck duo of Brad Ottens and Trent West spells out trouble for the Magpies.

I think the Cats will win but it should be noted one last time that all year people have been saying Collingwood is the team to beat.

Been there, done that

ONE of the beauties of this weekend's match is that so many of the players on the field already have a reasonable amount of grand final experience under their collective belts.

Often there are players who are overwhelmed by their first experience of a grand final, but it is so much easier as a player if you've been through it before.

This is normally a huge advantage, but this week that advantage isn't there.

I remember the 1975 grand final being so much easier simply because I'd played in the grand final only 12 months before. It gives you so much confidence having been through the build-up before and football, like any sport, is a game of confidence. You don't need hang-ups going into a grand final.

So much in the mind

THE 44 players would've dealt with mixed emotions this week.

In football you try and picture the good things that you can do, but you can't not think about making a mistake and losing.

The players have put everything into wanting to win.

Having played in a winning grand final and a losing grand final I can assure you that the emotions with either result are poles apart.

I'll never forget the lost grand final against Richmond in 1974.

North Melbourne kicked the first three goals of the second quarter that day to lead by 12 points before eventually losing by 41 points. This was the lowest point of my career.

Conversely when we beat Hawthorn the next year to take out the premiership it was the high point of my career.

No footballer wants to go through his life without winning a premiership.

The great Bob Skilton won three Brownlow medals but has often said that he would swap any of them to be part of a premiership-winning team.

Looking back I'm so glad I made the move from South Melbourne to North Melbourne with the 10-year rule as it allowed me to play in a team that won a grand final. It's something that completes your career.

Most of the players in this weekend's grand final already have a premiership medal, but the joy of victory is so great it will drive them to want another one.

Swan gets the medal

I PREDICTED last week that a Swan would win this year's Brownlow Medal.

By choosing Adam Goodes as the winner though I proved to be a fair way off the mark.

What Monday night showed is that the Brownlow is so unpredictable, as people you think will poll well, don't.

Goodes and pre-count favourite Chris Judd are proof of that.

Hats off to Dane Swan though as he's a wonderful player.

I think the pressure has been off him a bit this year, as nine times out of 10 he hasn't been getting tagged. His tally of 34 votes was unbelievable though.

Most years you win the medal with 22 or 23 votes, but this year Judd and Gary Ablett polled 23 votes and that was only good enough to finish sixth.

I wasn't happy at one point though with Sam Mitchell leading the count late in the night but ineligible to win the award due to a minor infraction early in the season.

It would've been terrible to see him win the count only to have the medal stripped off him for something so minor.



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