Lights, people, action
Cameron Ling, Robert 'Scratcher' Neal, Barry Stoneham and Neville Bruns have been the most famous redheads to grace the Geelong turf in recent times. But even they did not reach the heights of the country's most famous redhead, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who was on hand at Simonds Stadium to see the new lights, built with Federal Government funding, and the opening of the new Players Stand. Thankfully, no Redheads were needed to ignite the ultra-modern lights, with the sudden emergence of the towers brightening the town more than most big-city types can imagine.
2. The return of Gazza
Gary Ablett missed through injury the one and only game Gold Coast had played at Simonds Stadium in its short history. However, he immediately made an impact on Saturday night, picking up the first kick of the game, kicking a goal in the first quarter and outpointing two-time premiership teammate Corey Enright to take a one-handed mark in the style that his father made famous. His goal in the last quarter was a standout, deep in the forward pocket, 48 metres out in front of the new Players Stand. It reprised his famous goal kicked against the Brisbane Lions when wearing Cats colours. CEO Brian Cook said on Thursday the dream of Ablett returning to Geelong at some stage remained just that: a dream. Cook, like most Cats supporters, would have been glad his return did not become a nightmare, as it threatened to at times through the game. He still finished with 34 disposals.
3. Old number, new face
Few players have created as much excitement as the 21-year-old Nathan Vardy. In his first senior game for 2013, after just two games in 2012, he did not disappoint. He kicked Geelong's first goal for the game – his acceleration and mobility stunning onlookers – and provided a target all night. He finished with four goals. And he did it wearing the number 30 made famous by retired full-back Matthew Scarlett. Vardy has played 12 games for 12 goals. Scarlett kicked 17 goals in 284 games.
4. Jaeger is the bomb
It's suddenly apparent to everyone that Gold Coast has recruited well. The Suns lost their only previous game at Simonds Stadium two years ago by 150 points but found themselves level with the Cats at three-quarter time on Saturday night. Perhaps the pivotal player driving people's awareness of their improvement is Jaeger O'Meara. He plays with the class and poise of a much more experienced player and is another great sidekick to Gary Ablett to throw in beside Harley Bennell (who was out injured), David Swallow and Dion Prestia. O'Meara kicked the first goal of the third quarter to keep the belief alive and kept powering from there. Given that enticing youngster Jack Martin is waiting in the wings, the 2014 Gold Coast model could be frightening.
5. And the winner is...
The answer to the biggest trivia question to come from the night? It was the Suns' Luke Russell who kicked the first goal under lights at Simonds Stadium. Most thought it was an aberration but the Suns kept shining all night, kicking five unanswered goals in a third-quarter burst that had pundits joking that the Cats' kryptonite might be lights at Kardinia Park. A nine-goal last quarter to Geelong put an end to those thoughts and it was business as usual for the home side.