I can’t quite say I was born and bred a Geelong Cats tragic. I was born in Scotland and our knowledge of Aussie Rules was limited. We knew it was a weird style of football (that seemed to involve more hands than feet) with an odd shaped ball and four goal posts that meant you scored when you missed.
Emigrating to Geelong as a seven year old, Mum and Dad fell in love with the game and we all became avid Cats fans and members.
I remember the days of lining up outside from 7am and when the gates opened, bolting to get a seat on the front row so you could batter the fence for each Cats goal (or to put off opposition about to have a shot).
I remember running out onto Kardinia Park when Gary Ablett kicked his 100th goal in 1993.
I remember the entire city celebrating the 2007 premiership together on CBD streets by honking horns and hugging strangers.
I’ve never really understood families where kids barrack for different teams. It wasn’t optional in my house. It still isn’t. I was brought up understanding being a Cats supporter was as important as cleaning your room or being home before dark and now my kids are learning that too. We sit in the pocket every home match, sing the song with gusto and cheer every chance we get.
Footy at Simonds Stadium feels like a traditional experience, even for visiting teams and occasional spectators. It’s a ground that still has the suburban feel about it. It’s a bit exposed to the elements whilst having great modern facilities, including the amazing new Brownlow Stand fresh for 2017. You can still have a kick on the grass after the match. The crowd is unapologetically one-eyed without frightening small children who support the opposition.
It’s five minute walk from South Geelong station and trains direct from Southern Cross Station make it easy to have a day out at the footy. Little Creatures is nearby for a few drinks and a bite to eat or you can a hot bite and a cold drink in the stadium before the game.
Or, make a weekend of it when you come to a match and team it with a night or two at Devlin Apartments, a tasty trip on the Bellarine Taste Trail and a round of golf at Curlewis Golf Club. Coming from interstate? Avalon and Melbourne Airports are close by and well serviced by regular shuttle buses.
Keen to come along? Here's the Cats fixture at Simonds Stadium for 2017:
vs Western Bulldogs, Friday 19 May, 7.50pm
vs Port Power, Thursday 25 May, 7.20pm
vs Adelaide Crows, Friday 2 June, 7.50pm
vs Fremantle Dockers, Sunday 25 June, 1.10pm
vs Sydney Swans, Friday 5 August, 7.50pm
vs Richmond Tigers, Saturday 12 August, 2.10pm
vs GWS Giants, Sunday 27 August, time TBC