GEELONG still holds mental scars from its last grand final loss to Hawthorn that “we will never ever forget,” according to coach Mark Thompson.
Two premierships since 2007 and 73 wins from the past 86 matches have cast the club’s place in history as one of the great VFL/AFL sides ever.
Even an unblemished record against the Hawks in the two teams’ past three clashes has done little to erase those bitter memories.
“I don’t think you ever forget,” Thompson said of that heartbreaking 26-point loss in the 2008 grand final.
“I don’t think the Saints will ever forget what happened to them last year – and we’ll never forget, either.
“It’s either going to be the best day of your life or the worst day of your life.
“That (the 2008 grand final) was a pretty bad day for us.”
Hawthorn’s finals hopes looked shot earlier this season when the Hawks languished on 1-6 but seven consecutive victories – including four by under two goals – have breathed new life into their campaign.
Thompson said facing Hawthorn at the top of its game was what the Cats wanted.
“We don’t take pride in getting clubs when they’re wounded or in bad form,” he said.
“It’s quite exciting to play a team that’s in form.”
Racking up an AFL record of 505 possessions, Geelong has now gathered five of the AFL’s top-six possession games over the past six seasons
Thompson expected replicating last weekend’s performance against the Kangaroos would be tough.
“Hawthorn are renowned for their zone defence and the squeeze,” he said.
“We watched them play last week and they certainly do it like every other side.
“It’s going to be a challenge to get the ball through again.”
Thompson also joined the chorus of fans backing the return of Saturday afternoon football to the MCG.
The traditional format of the game has been missing from Victoria for the past four weekends.
“I like playing at the ‘G on a Saturday against a good side,” Thompson said.
“I think the crowd should be fantastic.
“I know night games are good for TV but I think day games are great for people to turn up to the matches, so we should have a cracker crowd.”
Thompson said night games also created another problem – a lack of sleep afterward.
Amid fears for Richmond’s Ben Cousins’ health after an adverse reaction to prescription sleeping tablets landed him in Melbourne’s Epworth Hospital, Geelong clarified its policy that each player checks with the doctor to “work things out”.
Thompson said he also had problems sleeping after arriving home at 1am from late finishes but encouraged players to sleep-in and avoid early recovery sessions the next day.
“The problem with sleeping tablets is it’s not right,” he said.
“I have spoke to our doctor and not many players take the caffeine tablets, not many players take sleeping tablets.”