Main content

Cursed Cats? Five barriers Geelong must overcome to win the flag

Can Geelong replicate the success of 2011? - AFL,Geelong Cats,Chris Scott
Can Geelong replicate the success of 2011?

GEELONG fans can be excused for feeling like cats on hot tin roofs as their team prepares to launch its bid for its first flag in eight years.

To go all the way, the minor premier will need to overcome a series of statistical barriers, including their record-breaking topsy-turvy finish to the minor rounds, their poor recent finals record and their even worse post-bye history.

Late-season malaise

Chris Scott's team will attempt to become the first in 103 years to win a premiership after losing five of its last 10 games before the finals.

The Cats, whose alternating win-loss-win-loss pattern has stretched to 11 games, also face a century-old League hoodoo to claim the flag after failing to win successive home and away games on the run home.

By rights, Geelong actually stands to become the first team in the League's 122-year history to achieve both feats if we discount the efforts of two long-ago premiership teams who triumphed in unusual circumstances.

CURIOUS COACHING Has Chris Scott outsmarted himself in September?

In 1916, with just four clubs competing due to World War I, Fitzroy lost its last nine games to finish on the bottom before winning its three finals to snatch a comical premiership; and in 1900 Melbourne finished sixth in an eight-team competition, winning five of its last 10 games (the same as the current Cats) before triumphing after a bizarre, two-group finals series.

Going on the Cats' win-loss trend, they are due for a loss when they face Collingwood in the first qualifying final.

They will also travel from the sleepy hollow of Geelong to play at the MCG – the home ground of the lower-placed Magpies. Just don't get Scott started on that subject.

 
Post-bye syndrome

No matter what they've tried, the Cats don't seem to have been as hungry after a rest.

During Scott's nine-year reign as coach, Geelong has lurched to a pitiful 1-11 record after a week off.

This comprises nine straight losses following mid-season breaks and a 1-2 result after pre-finals byes.

Their lone win in this post-bye blooper reel was by two points over Hawthorn in their 2016 qualifying final – and that only materialised after Hawks star Isaac Smith missed a set shot after the siren.

The Cats have a horrible record after byes under Chris Scott. Picture: AFL Photos

The Cats have suffered comprehensive defeats in their two subsequent games after pre-finals byes – to eventual premier Richmond by 51 points in their 2017 qualifying final, and to Melbourne by 29 points in an elimination final last year.

They didn't fare well after their most recent bye, either. Despite being 11-1 and sitting two games and almost 20 per cent clear on top of the ladder, and five games ahead of round 14 opponent Port Adelaide, Geelong started slowly at Adelaide Oval and suffered an upset 11-point loss to the Power.

"We've got a plan in place. The pre-finals bye is very different to the mid-season bye – there's different priorities in your preparation. They are significantly different," Scott told reporters on Saturday night after the Cats' final-round smashing of Carlton.

"We don't set up our season to make sure that our best game of the year is the game post the mid-season bye, but we do set it up so that we're in pretty good shape coming into the first week of the finals. That doesn't mean you're always going to deliver."

Geelong after byes 2011-19

Result

Margin

When

Opp

Venue

Bye type

Loss

13 pts

R23, 2011

Syd

KP

Mid-season

Loss

6 pts

R13, 2012

Syd

SCG

Mid-season

Loss

5 pts

R13, 2013

Bris

Gabba

Mid-season

Loss

32 pts

R9, 2014

Frem

Subiaco

Mid-season

Loss

41 pts

R15, 2015

NM

Docklands

Mid-season

Loss

38 pts

R16, 2016

Syd

KP

Mid-season

Win

2 pts

QF, 2016

Haw

MCG

Pre-finals

Loss

13 pts

R13, 2017

WC

Subiaco

Mid-season

Loss

51 pts

QF, 2017

Rich

MCG

Pre-finals

Loss

2 pts

R15, 2018

WB

Docklands

Mid-season

Loss

29 pts

EF, 2018

Melb

MCG

Pre-finals

Loss

11 pts

R14, 2019

PA

AO

Mid-season

Finals jitters

Scott guided the Cats to the 2011 premiership in his first season at the helm, and since then they have continued to defy gravity by making the finals in all but one season. But there's no escaping the fact they have largely been September flops.

Over the past eight years, the Cats have won just three of their 12 finals. This barren stretch includes just one victory in their past five finals, and in each of these four defeats they have started painfully slowly, being outscored in first quarters by a combined 113 points – conceding 20.12 (132) while scoring just 1.13 (19) themselves.

"Not many teams have great finals records out there – you tend to (either) be the best team or you lose in finals," Scott said on Saturday night.

Indeed, and there is enormous pressure on the Cats and their coach to be the former rather than the latter.

Geelong in finals 2012-18

Result

Margin

When

Opp

Venue

Loss

16 pts

EF, 2012

Frem

MCG

Loss

15 pts

QF, 2013

Frem

KP

Win

16 pts

SF, 2013

PA

MCG

Loss

5 pts

PF, 2013

Haw

MCG

Loss

36 pts

QF, 2014

Haw

MCG

Loss

6 pts

SF, 2014

NM

MCG

Win

2 pts

QF, 2016

Haw

MCG

Loss

37 pts

PF, 2016

Syd

MCG

Loss

51 pts

QF, 2017

Rich

MCG

Win

59 pts

SF, 2017

Syd

MCG

Loss

61 pts

PF, 2017

Adel

AO

Loss

29 pts

EF, 2018

Melb

MCG

Find AFL Exchange on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.

Minor premiers, major problems

Geelong has claimed its first minor premiership in 11 years, but in recent times the No.1 position has become something of a poisoned chalice, given the past five minor premiers have failed to win the flag.

In fact, just six of the past 23 teams that have been the top-ranked qualifier have gone on to claim the premiership.

The most recent to triumph was Hawthorn in 2013.

Freshest in the memory is the hammering copped by last year's minor premier Richmond at the hands of a Mason Cox-inspired Collingwood.

Minor premiers 2014-19

Year

Team

W-L-D

%

Finish

Premier

2014

Syd

17-5-0

142.9

2nd

Haw

2015

Frem

17-5-0

118.7

3rd

Haw

2016

Syd

17-5-0

151.2

2nd

WB

2017

Adel

15-6-1

136

2nd

Rich

2018

Rich

18-4

136.1

3rd

WC

2019

Geel

16-6

135.7

?

?

The losingest No.1 team in history

Geelong claimed an obscure League record this season, enduring the most home and away losses while on top of the ladder.

The Cats held top billing from rounds two to 21, regaining that status in the last round, and suffered an unprecedented six losses while sitting in first position.

These were to Greater Western Sydney by four points at GMHBA Stadium in round four, to Port Adelaide by 11 points at Adelaide Oval in round 14, to the Western Bulldogs by 16 points at Marvel Stadium in round 16, to Hawthorn by 24 points at the MCG in round 18, to Fremantle by 34 points at Optus Stadium in round 20, and to Brisbane by one point in their top-of-the-table thriller at the Gabba in round 22.

The Cats trudge off the ground after a loss to the Hawks - one of six they suffered while top of the ladder. Picture: AFL Photos

It's only the third time a team has lost at least five games when on top of the ladder. 

Most minor-round losses when on top of the ladder

Losses

Team

Finish

W-L on top

6

Geelong 2019

?

13-6

5

Fremantle 2015

3rd 

13-5

5

Fitzroy 1904

1st

11-5

  • Statistics courtesy of AFL statisticians and historians Col Hutchinson and Stephen Rodgers.