Geelong may have fallen short at the final hurdle, but 2020 saw many of the club’s lesser known players take their games to a new level and produce career best seasons.
This group of men represent the future of Geelong and if they can continue on the same trajectory in the seasons to come, the Cats will continue to be a force.
We’ve known for many years the quality that Cameron Guthrie and Sam Menegola possess, but this year they took ownership of Geelong’s midfield.
Both men led the club for average disposals with 21 per game.
Guthrie was prolific playing as an inside midfielder. He finished the season ranked eighth in the competition for total stoppage clearances and total effective disposals to receive an All Australian blazer for the first time and win the ‘Carji’ Greeves Medal.
Menegola finished a career-best sixth in Geelong’s best and fairest and was unlucky to miss out on All Australian selection after being named in the initial squad of 40.
He thrived playing on the wing and finished as the number one ranked player in the entire league for total uncontested possessions. His ability to link up and transition between the arcs made the Cats a far more dangerous side. Arguably his most noticeable improvement was his ability to impact the scoreboard, finishing fifth for total goals at Geelong with 16 from his 21 games and dishing off a further 12 to teammates.
Jed Bews was another Cat to produce a career best campaign and was rewarded with a seventh-place finish in the ‘Carji’ Greeves Medal.
The 26-year-old enjoyed getting the opportunity to play further afield averaging 11 disposals from his 20 games, while still being equally effective at shutting down the opposition’s best small forwards each week.
Fellow defenders Jack Henry (22) and Mark O’Connor (24) also featured in the ‘Carji’ top 10 showing the Cats are well placed for life after Harry Taylor.
Both players are great examples of how statistics don’t tell the full story. Henry’s bravery sets him apart and you can just tell that his teammates love playing alongside him. He is all about the team and puts his body on the line week after week with some huge spoils and marks floating across the pack.
The man they nickname ‘Shark’ was equally as reliable down back.
Tasked with playing on the opposition’s best small forward week after week, O’Connor was rarely beaten while producing career highs for goals, tackles, clearances, goal assists and rebound 50s this season.
Rounding out the top 10 of this year’s best and fairest was goal sneak Gryan Miers.
The 21-year-old finished the season as Geelong’s third best goal scorer with 19 snags behind only Tom Hawkins and Gary Rohan.
Finishing outside of the ‘Carji’ top 10 but also producing career best seasons were Brandan Parfitt and Sam Simpson.
Both possess similar qualities with their ability to rotate through the midfield and in attack.
Parfitt elevated his game to a new level this season, averaging a career-high 16 disposals per game and leading the Cats in the tackling department.
Simpson cemented his spot in Geelong’s best 22 in the latter half of the season after a hamstring injury setback mid-year. He recorded a career-high 27 disposals against Brisbane in Round six.
Throw in the impressive first-year development by Brad Close and the natural improvement of the remainder of Geelong's list and the Cats are well placed heading into the future.
This article was proudly presented by Deakin.