AS I WALTZED down Moorabool Street on Saturday night in my woolen Cats jersey with the No.5 on the back – being the big Gary Malarkey fan I am – I stared up at the big white razors that now tower above Kardinia Park and thought back to the past decade of footy on the hallowed turf.
Buddha’s last home game. Mark Blake’s first goal. The Geelong Advertiser running “30 wins at home in a row” posters on the morning the Cats lost to Sydney and the streak ended on 29.
But some of the best memories have been the utter floggings on lesser teams that probably shouldn’t have turned up that day, reminding of those times skinny Uncle Bruce used to pick fights with big Uncle Brian over who got the last dibs on the Foster Clarks premium custard at Christmas.
It wasn’t pretty, but there was something magical about the brutality of it all. Like a ballet at a butchers.
So as a downed my last drop of Furphys I’d nicked from the Little Creatures brewery down the road, I decided to do what any self-respecting footy fan would do while loaded on turps and memories – I decided to storm the gates and re-live those magical moments.
Wojcinski through the centre against Melbourne. Stevie J taking the piss with his around the corner kicks. Brad Ottens having a massive fucking head on him. I was going to do it all.
Until the 5-0 turned up.
“What are you up to mate?” they said, fingers on the taser trigger already like I was some sort mad dog on the tear.
“Just reliving the old days officer,” I said.
“When men were men and social-distancing was for Demons defenders on Geelong forwards. When the only virus you could catch was Matty Scarlett fever. When a man could stop in the street and look up at some light towers and not be bothered by pigs with nothing better to do.”
So here’s the 15 biggest margins of the 2000s so far.
The Geelong watch house WiFi goes alright.
2011: GEELONG – 37.11.(233) def Melbourne – 7.5.(47)
THE game went on so long the stadium’s lights went out before the match was over.
Steve Johnson took the piss with seven goals from 34 disposals as the Demons tried everyone from Luke Tapscott to James Frawley to Jack Watts to stop him.
Tom Hawkins kicked five, as did Cameron Mooney, who was only in the team because James Podsiadly – Geelong’s leading goalkicker for the year – sat this one out. Yep. They kicked the second-highest score of all-time without their number one spearhead.
The Cats were only four points off breaking the long-held margin record set by Fitzroy against Melbourne in 1979.
The match would put Geelong on the path to a third premiership in five years, and see Melbourne coach Dean Bailey lose his job.
2011: HAWTHORN – 31.11.(197) def Port Adelaide – 5.2.(32)
THE Hawks only notched nine wins by more than 100 points over the past 20 years, which some would say is a sign that maybe they weren’t as dominant as everybody thought.
Not me … just …. some.
This game was a slaughter from the start though, and we all know you can’t spell a Power slaughter without laughter.
The 165-point belting was Hawthorn’s biggest win in the club’s rich history and was one of Port’s lowest moments in that awkward period they went through between Mark Williams and Ken Hinkley, known as the Primustic Age.
Lance Franklin was the star of the show with eight goals, while Cyril Rioli provided a worthy support act with six goals from 16 disposals.
2012: HAWTHORN – 28.25.(193) def GWS – 4.7.(31)
WE won’t waste too much time on games where an established team beat up on a new team, which will happen a bit in this list.
GWS – who at this point still had on-field coaches like Chad Cornes and James McDonald playing – were pretty awful, with Cornes kicking two of the four team goals while Toby Greene showed what was to come in his career with 34 touches.
For the Hawks, it was Jarryd Roughead that did most of the damage with six goals and three behinds as 19 of the 22 Hawthorn players hit the scoreboard.
2007: GEELONG – 35.12.(222) def Richmond – 9.11.(65)
HAVING copped a Paul Chapman right-hook to the chin after a lackluster performance against North Melbourne in Round 5 of 2007 – leaving the Cats 2-3 and on the brink – the Pivotonians took their frustrations out on a refreshingly hapless Tigers outfit in Round 6.
Welcoming back Steve Johnson from a club imposed suspension for being a bit of a dill, the Cats piled on 10 goals to one in the first quarter, then another 10 to one in the second quarter, before taking the foot off the pedal by only kicking 15 goals to 7 in the second half.
Nathan Ablett, Tom Hawkins (in his fourth game), Andrew Mackie and Chapman all kicked four goals as the Cats were again set on the path to a drought-breaking flag.
For the Tigers, Cleve Hughes wasn’t too crap with three goals, three behinds.
2011: GEELONG – 29.14.(188) def Gold Coast – 6.2.(38)
AS mentioned earlier we won’t spend too much time looking at games where a first-season battler was thumped by an established juggernaut.
Former favourite son now turned favourite son again Gary Ablett didn’t play for the Suns on that day, instead wandering the boundary signing autographs and taking happy snaps. His teammates pretty much joined him at halftime.
Steve Johnson kicked six goals, James Podsiadly kicked five, and Cameron Mooney booted three goals and three behinds in what would be his final appearance at Kardinia Park.
2013: ESSENDON – 28.16.(184) def Melbourne – 5.6.(36)
THE BOMBERS recorded four wins by more than 100 points in the past two decades, but only two of those came from their dominant years in the early noughties.
The other two feature in this list, including this annihilation of the Demons in Round 2 of 2013.
Now a cynic might suggest some sort of supplemental benefits may have been helping the Bombers at this stage in their history, but not me. I’m no cynic. This was talent alone.
Legends of the game Stewart Crameri and Tom Bellchambers kicked 10 goals between them as household names like Nick Kommer, Jackson Merrett and Heath Hocking provided plenty of support through the midfield.
2014: HAWTHORN – 27.13.(175) def St Kilda – 4.6.(30)
IT was actually difficult watching how far St Kilda fell after their heartbreaking Grand Final replay loss in 2010.
With champions like Riewoldt, Goddard, Montagna and Dal Santo on the way out, the Saints turned to a new guard that wasn’t quite up to it – and the brilliant Hawks picked them apart.
Luke Breuuuuuuust, Jack Gunston, Jarryd Roughead and perennial whipping boy Ryan Schoenmakers all kicked four goals while Shaun Burgoyne gathered 33 touches and two majors.
Forget what I said earlier. This Hawthorn side was the duck’s nuts.
2004: BRISBANE – 29.15.(189) def Adelaide – 6.12.(48)
IT feels strange that there was an Adelaide side in the past two decades that wasn’t competitive, but here we are.
As the Lions were shooting for their fourth flag in as many years, they faced a Crows side that was still trying to find its feet having last won a premiership six years earlier, as they built towards the Crowbots side that really should have lifted the cup at some point.
This match – which remains both Brisbane’s highest ever score and highest ever winning margin – was dominated by Jason Akermanis who kicked four goals from 35 touches.
Alastair Lynch was huge at full-forward with six goals, while Blake Caracella, Michael Voss and Nigel Lappin all kicked three.
2011: ESSENDON – 31.11.(197) def Gold Coast – 8.10.(58)
AGAIN, an established team beating up on a new team, but this game was memorable for the first quarter.
The Bombers kicked 15.4.(94) in the opening stanza to 0.1.(1) – for the maths nerds amongst us, had they kept that pace up the final score would have been 376 to 4.
Thankfully that didn’t happen and Gary Ablett led the Suns out of those murky opening quarter waters with 30 disposals, but the Bombers still finished strongly with Kyle Reimers of all people kicking eight of his 69 career goals in this one match.
2005: ST KILDA – 28.18.(186) def Brisbane – 7.5.(47)
HAVING lost to the Lions by 23 points in the first round of the season at the Gabba, the Saints screamed “don’t touch our Nick!” in Brisbane faces when they destroyed them in the final round of the season.
It was very much a revenge game.
In that opening match, the veteran Lions had targeted young gun Nick Riewoldt physically – first when Jamie Charman took him out in a marking contest – and secondly when Mal Michael and Chris Scott both went after his shoulder after he injured it in a diving mark attempt.
With Riewoldt out of the game, old headed Saints like Aaron Hamill and Fraser Gehrig took their frustrations out on the Lions, distracting them from putting the hurt on the scoreboard.
That wasn’t the case in the final round.
Heading towards finals as the Victorian team most people saw as the great hope to unseat the interstate teams’ clutch on the premiership cup, the Saints murdered the Lions in the first half to the tune of 59 points, then buried them in the second half with 94 to 20 blitz.
Stephen Milne was a freak on the day, kicking 11 goals, while Riewoldt got his revenge with six goals and four behinds from 22 touches in a dominant performance.
2006: ADELAIDE – 30.8.(188) def Essendon – 6.14.(50)
IT didn’t take long for the Crowbots to start rolling after their struggle in 2004, and having lost the prelim to the Eagles in 2005 it looked for all money like 2006 was going to be their year.
Led by Trent Hentschel with eight goals straight in their Round 10 flogging of the Bombers, the Crows went on to win six-straight games after that, five of which were by more than six goals.
Then they slammed into another Eagles brick wall, falling to West Coast by 82 points in Round 17.
While it didn’t derail their season, it was a massive speed bump that did completely fuck up their suspension, and they’d go on to four of their next seven games – including another prelim final against the Eagles.
2016: ADELAIDE – 27.15.(177) def Brisbane – 6.3.(39)
THE Crows of 2016 had a fair few similarities to their team from a decade before.
High-scoring, dominant, packed with talent, and – ultimately – flagless.
While this match was against the Lions outfit in the middle of a rebuild following a mass player exodus, it was a show of Adelaide’s impressive fire power.
Four goals each to Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts and the other Tom Lynch, and another three to Josh Jenkins, proved the class they had up front. Ultimately, though, they didn’t have the depth across the field to take them all the way.
2015: HAWTHORN – 27.11.(173) def Carlton – 4.11.(35)
GOOGLE “worst Carlton 22 of all-time” and this team may very well come up from a long list of Blues teams.
Their goalscorers for the day were Tom Bell, Blaine Boekhorst, Andrejs Everitt and Liam Jones. That really tells the story.
But it also undersells how good this Hawks team was as they were on their path to a third flag in as many years, with Jack Gunston kicking six goals in a team that could no longer rely on – nor be distracted by — the bright lights of Buddy Franklin.
2011: COLLINGWOOD – 23.21.(159) def Port Adelaide – 3.3.(21)
IT’S easy to forget Collingwood lost just three games in 2011, and every single one of them was to Geelong.
Of their 22 wins for the season, 14 of them were by 40 points or more, including this destroyation of the Primustic Age Power.
Mitchell Banner (who?) and Daniel Stewart (I repeat) were the only goalscorers for the Power, while the Magpies shared the load between 12 different players, with Jarryd Blair (4.1) outscoring Port by himself.
2013: ADELAIDE – 29.12.(187) def GWS – 7.10.(52)
A FINAL “established team beating up the kids” moment, with the other Tom Lynch kicking 10 goals for the Crows while Patrick Dangerfield and Josh Jenkins kicked four apiece.
This was one of 12 100-point thrashings dealt out to the Giants, with Carlton the next worst with 11 of them in two decades.
The AFL’s other newbie – the Gold Coast – only recorded nine 100-point losses, but interestingly, the Suns have never recorded a 100-point win while the Giants have three to their name.
2008: GEELONG – 28.14.(182) def West Coast – 5.17.(47)
WE were going to make this the list of the 15 biggest wins of the 2000s, but nobody wants to finish on a game where the big boys beat up the little boys.
So instead let’s finish it with the game where Cats coach Mark Thompson was so comfortable with his team’s position halfway through the match that he ate a sandwich in the Subiaco coaches box.
Gary Ablett was a machine with 37 disposals and two goals – one of which he dodged, dipped, ducked, dived and dodged Eagles opponents on the way to a glorious running sausage roll – while Paul Chapman and Cameron Mooney both kicked five big ones.