PATRICK Dangerfield put it pretty simply: "We treat our players like adults," he told the AFL.com.au team ahead of the season. If that doesn't sound like revolutionary stuff, it's because it's not. But it sure shows.

Whenever you watch Geelong take the field, it's hard to shake the sense that they've seen this all before, that they have it under control. Evidently due to some extent from the attitude Dangerfield spoke of while discussing 'Cats Culture' ahead the season, Geelong carry with them that persona of the "adult in the room", a phrase admittedly common in world sport but that was recently popularised for Australian audiences by Brett Brown during his stint as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA where the Aussie connection was significant.

'CATS CULTURE' IS NOW STREAMING IN The Club Collection on AFL ON DEMAND

In that environment, where talent was plentiful but experience varied, Brown was referring to veteran All-Star Jimmy Butler. Butler was hardened, resilient. He understood preparation. He valued structure. He relished and had mastered the grind. In short, he was a basketballing adult.

As we enter another home stretch in the AFL, it’s in those terms that one can easily think of Geelong as a collective. Heading into Friday’s clash with the Giants, the Cats are once again gunning for a top-two finish, with top four almost guaranteed.

And at this point, that’s basically an annual equation.  

'CATS CULTURE' IS NOW STREAMING IN The Club Collection on AFL ON DEMAND

Geelong’s record is now staggering. In a theoretically cyclical competition, they’ve made finals in 13 of the last 14 years and will add to that this season off the back of winning 11 of their last 12 games. Of those 13 finals appearances, they’ve reached the top four in 11 of those years. Of those 11, nine have been top two. 

Or if you’re more of a visual person, since 2007 it looks like this: first, first, second, second, second, sixth, second, third, tenth, second, second, eighth, first, fourth. Pretty shortly, you can add whatever this year becomes to that list.

As the rigours of an immensely challenging 2021 season have set in, Chris Scott’s men have felt better equipped than anyone to successfully navigate them. That record behind them, a list stacked with experienced pros, the Cats are showing that while it’s possible to outplay them at times, it’s almost impossible to outsmart them. To out-prepare them. To out-work them. To beat their infrastructure. Eventually, Cats Culture is getting everyone.

'CATS CULTURE' IS NOW STREAMING IN The Club Collection on AFL ON DEMAND

Culture and the now widespread acknowledgement of its legitimacy has possibly become the most subtly significant shift in sport this century, and it comes in many forms and with varying themes. A decade ago at Barcelona, culture was defined by an unwavering philosophic idea. In places like the Melbourne Storm and the New England Patriots, it’s been seen in a military-like adherence to standards, roles and responsibilities. At the San Antonio Spurs, it took the form of an almost monastery-like setting; at Golden State, it was a loose and free environment of superstar empowerment.

At Geelong? "I don’t think it’s a secret formula," says Mitch Duncan. "It’s just an organisation run by extremely good people."

'The Club Collection' is a series on AFL On Demand that showcases the history and stories that make clubs unique. From looking back at famous victories to learning more about the stars on the field, this series highlights what makes clubs so special.