HAVE never understood those who criticise Geelong.
Have never got why a club which seeks to win the premiership every single season is sometimes laughed at when it goes close but falls short. Certainly don't subscribe to the view of many that clubs need to bottom-out in order to finish top.
And here we are again, in 2021, with the Cats into the last four. It's the 12th time in the past 18 seasons they've achieved that feat, and seventh time in 11 seasons with Chris Scott as coach. It is an extraordinary period of success, and while I fully realise the mindset around the AFL system is that there is only one winner each year, there are times I wished we embraced at least part of the United States football model of properly recognising, and celebrating, success along the way to the main prize.
There is always a lot to lose upon entry to a preliminary final, and Geelong would be shattered to lose another of those week three finals matches. And again, the critics would be out in force. Too old, too slow, too predictable.
But, given Geelong's circuitous passage to this year's one, which required a detour through Friday night's semi-final against GWS, it now has the rare luxury next Friday night of being able to adopt a nothing-to-lose mindset against the minor premier, and dominant qualifying final winner, Melbourne. And that might prove to be its greatest asset for this match at Optus Stadium.
Extraordinarily, the incredible, thrilling matches of Friday and Saturday night in the final round of the 2021 home and away season are to be repeated in week three of the finals.
Back then, the Cats lost to a Max Gawn goal after the final siren. The Dogs lost by two points to a Trav Boak-inspired Power comeback.
Due to those wins in round 23, and their subsequent easy victories in qualifying finals, Melbourne and Port Adelaide are resounding favourites to beat Geelong and Western Bulldogs this week.
But preliminary finals reveal a history of shock results. A Toby Greene-less GWS over Collingwood in 2019. A Mason Cox-inspired Collingwood against Richmond in 2018. The '99 Carlton win against Essendon.
And three weeks ago, the Cats led the Dees by seven goals, and the Dogs led the Power by nearly four goals. I reckon these two prelims are line-ball.
Ken's 2IC should be in the box seat for another senior job
THERE have been many key players behind Port Adelaide reaching preliminary finals in the past two seasons.
Boak, Butters, Wines, Gray, Rozee, Duursma, Burton, Dixon, Jonas and many others have helped establish this team as one of the competition's most genuine contenders.
In 2020, it was ladder leader for most of the season, and did virtually nothing wrong all year apart from failing to quell Dusty Martin in a preliminary final it was to lose by a kick. In 2021, it stayed strong as it dealt with regular injuries to key players, qualified for the finals in second place, destroyed the Cats in week one, and now have an Adelaide Oval preliminary final against Western Bulldogs.
One of those many others, and very prominent on that particular list, has been Michael Voss, coach Kenny Hinkley's 2IC at Port Adelaide for the past seven years.
Voss is yet to determine his football future. He is out of contract at the Power, and some clubs are exploring ways to add him to their senior structure. Stuart Dew will almost certainly coach Gold Coast into a fifth season in 2022, but he will be under as much pressure as anyone in football. He could certainly do with someone carrying the footy smarts and personal character of Voss in his footy department for that crucial season for his and his club's life.
Voss is unfairly judged on the five seasons he coached Brisbane and deserves a second crack at a senior job.
VOSS TO SUNS? Former Lions champ and Port assistant on the radar
Carlton would be derelict in its operations to not approach him, but nothing the Blues' board has done in the past 20 years, and particularly the past six months, would suggest it is about to conduct proper football business any time soon.
Besides, Voss would be within his rights to say, 'thanks, but no thanks' even if that call comes. The Blues treated him dreadfully in 2019 when they asked him to be part of the process to find Brendon Bolton's replacement, only to all but snub him from the moment everyone jumped aboard the Teague Train.
North Melbourne did similarly, pathetically using him and his name as a means to convince supporters and media that it had cast the net wide as it sought options to replace Brad Scott, when it had in fact, like Carlton, decided to look no further than the interim coach in place at the time, Rhyce Shaw.
Ask anyone behind the scenes at Port how important Voss has been. Surely he gets another crack soon.