After a late week AFLW fixture upheaval, the Cats will now travel to Victoria Park to take on the Magpies on Saturday, the first time a Geelong side has travelled to the formerly fearsome Abbotsford venue since 1993.
Initially scheduled to face the Lions in Queensland, new Covid-19 restrictions announced by the Victorian government overnight on Thursday has resulted in a Round 2 reshuffle, setting the Cats up for their visit to Victoria Park in 28 years.
It’ll be the Cats’ 85th game at the ground; the last time being a sunny afternoon in April 1993 when 24,147 fans crammed into the Magpies’ spiritual home to see the 1990 premiers take on the high scoring 1992 grand finalists, led by coach Malcolm Blight and the mercurial Gary Ablett Snr, fresh in his new role at full forward.
The Magpies would take an eight point lead into the main break before kicking away in the third term that day, the lead climbing to 28 points with eight and a half minutes remaining in the game. That’s when the Cats kicked into gear, flexing the offensive muscle that was a hallmark off the era, but falling just 10 points at the final siren.
Ablett delivered the kind of game that would be became a regular fixture that season, booting seven goals from just 10 kicks, while Gary Hocking, Ken Hinkley and Peter Riccardi all had busy days around the ball.
But it was a game that in a lot of ways reflected the Cats 1993 season.
Coming off a loss to the West Coast Eagles in 1992 decider, Blight had instituted a more defensive game plan that led to an inconsistent start to the Cats campaign. By the end of Round 16, the Cats were coming off a 71 point loss to the Tony Locket-less Saints and falling out of finals contention, before they reeled off one of the great six weeks stretches the League had ever seen.
The run started with return bout against the fifth placed Magpies, a 94-point demolition of the second placed Kangaroos, and an 82-point mauling of the top of the table Hawks ahead of the Round 20 bye. The break did nothing to halt the momentum of the fast finishing Cats, as they went about dispatching eventual premiers, Essendon by five goals and a 20 point win over the Eagles in Perth, a win that was worth eight points in 1993.
If only it was. Blight’s in-form Cats would finish just four percent behind the Eagles, marginally missing the final spot in the top six. The following year, the final six became the final eight.