No pussyfooting around the Cats’ tough decisions
THE Cats have finally run out of lives. And already on life support, it was as if they had pulled the plug themselves on their ninth and last last Friday night.
The end of an era came without so much as a whimper from this once powerful side.
Geelong's capitulation to Collingwood was one of the more staggering results of the year.
On the surface, it was ninth (the Cats) playing 12th (the Magpies) but, dig a little deeper and it was a team, at that stage, playing to keep its season alive, not to mention welcoming back a favourite son, against one that had seemingly checked out for the year.
The Cats went into the game knowing if they won they would be back to within one win of the top eight.
The Magpies, on the other hand, were well and truly out of the finals race and after being thrashed by Richmond the previous week, were expected to again be a no-show mentally.
But lacking any kind of commitment to win the footy, the Cats gathered just 33 kicks - 12 of them clangers - to 79 in the first quarter alone as the Magpies took a six-goal lead into the first change.
They ultimately allowed the Magpies to take a first-half season-high 79 marks as the margin stretched to 50 points at the main break.
Comeback kid Daniel Menzel could not have done any more to try and inspire his teammates, kicking four goals to match the amount of knee reconstructions he has endured and number of years of footy at the top level he has missed.
So, with the final eight confirmed - it's just a matter of which order they finish in - Geelong's clash with Adelaide this weekend will be nothing more than a celebratory send-off for a number of their premiership champions.
Just who has been told this final performance in front of home fans at Kardinia Park for 2015 will also be their last forever will be the big question during the week.
Coach Chris Scott, who coached the Cats to the 2011 flag, refused to name names in his post-match press conference, though 30-somethings Steve Johnson, Mathew Stokes, James Kelly, Jimmy Bartel, Andrew Mackie and Corey Enright are all in the gun.
"It's going to be brutal," Scott said.
There won't be many spare shoulders if teammates are carting off all six from Simonds Stadium on Saturday.
Mark Thompson, who coached the club to the 2007 and 2009 premierships, can't see why any of them have to be retired.
He's got a point - after all, Kelly (25), Mackie (25), Bartel (23), Johnson (23) and Enright (21) were five of the Cats' seven leading possession-winners against Collingwood.
What should be of more concern is the next generation of Cats, who were shown up by the young Magpies.
You can see why they are desperate to bring home Paddy Dangerfield and Scott Selwood.
Consecutive finalists VFL-AFL
13 - Hawthorn (1982-94)
11 - Coll (1901-11); Carlton (1978-88); Melb (1954-64)
10 - Carlton (1903-12);
West Coast (1990-99)
9 - Fitzroy (1898-1906); Carlton (1914-22);
8 - Geelong (2007-14)