Geelong Cats fans near Kardinia Park go wild

Earlier, hundreds gathered at the common vantage point outside of Kardinia Park, where the celebrations began long before the final blast of the siren.

There was hardly a nervous moment for the crowd, which consisted mostly of families, sitting on camp chairs and blankets in the afternoon sun.

Cats fans enjoy the grand finals victory outside of Kardinia Park.

Cats fans enjoy the grand finals victory outside of Kardinia Park. Recognition:Meredith O’Shea

Fans waved flags and some danced as Geelong piled on the goals and their enthusiasm swelled throughout the afternoon.

Viewership easily surpassed 1000 people as fans flocked to the Anthony Costa Oval to watch the game on two large screens and numbers grew as the game progressed.

The Cats fans were bursting with smiles, although some fans wiped away tears as the final quarter dragged on and the moment of joy drew near. Joel Selwood’s goal in the last quarter got the crowd on their feet with a burst of cheers and hugs.

Former Geelong Cheer Squad member Tracey Harrison said it was a great win.

“I’m so happy,” she said shortly after the final siren. “My heart is just beating.”

Tracey Harrison, a longtime Geelong supporter, waits for the game to start as Geelong fans gather at Kardinia Park in Geelong on the big finals day of the 2022 AFL.

Tracey Harrison, a longtime Geelong supporter, waits for the game to start as Geelong fans gather at Kardinia Park in Geelong on the big finals day of the 2022 AFL.Recognition:Meredith O’Shea

She said her hands were sore from clapping as she cheered throughout the game, cheering the crowd with chants of “Gee-long.”

The crowd cheered as footage of them on the live page flashed on the screens. But the Swans’ goals were met almost in silence.

Within minutes of the last siren, the city of Greater Geelong announced it would hold a street parade on Tuesday to celebrate the win.

The fans in front of Kardinia Park.

The fans in front of Kardinia Park.Recognition:Meredith O’Shea

Supporter Frank Anderson paced between quarters, almost too scared to watch the game. Though the Cats were dominant in the first half, Anderson said it would take another six or seven goals to settle down.

“I’m always nervous,” he said.

He needn’t have worried.

Cats fan Frank Anderson celebrates a goal by Geelong.

Cats fan Frank Anderson celebrates a goal by Geelong.Recognition:Meredith O’Shea

Anderson said he was originally from Geelong but moved to Adelaide around 20 years ago. He remains a Cats member but was unable to get tickets to the MCG.

Genny Smith traveled from Melbourne to watch the game with fellow Geelong fans. She said the win was a “sweet revenge” after her team’s big final defeat in 2020.

“Everyone said we were too old, too slow, but we won,” she said.

Smith said the Cats have shown great resilience throughout the season. “We couldn’t be prouder of this team.”

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However, some fans said the crowd was smaller than expected as the city of Greater Geelong only announced the live-viewing site on Friday – likely after many supporters made other plans.

Tourism Geelong Bellarine executive director Brett Ince said Saturday’s showdown gave the Cats a chance to redeem themselves after their 2020 loss to Richmond, while also bringing an economic boost to the regional city.

In 2020 Melbourne was in lockdown and Geelong was still under strict coronavirus restrictions. Ince said the grand final attracted Geelong supporters to the city in the days leading up to the game, who wanted to soak up the atmosphere with family and friends but couldn’t get tickets to the game.

“We’re seeing really consistent and strong accommodation bookings,” he said.

Ince said he expected millions of extra dollars to be spent in the region over the big finals weekend, but thought the economic benefits from the win would be even greater.

Giulia Baggio, chief executive of the G21 Geelong Region Alliance, said the city’s future was uncertain in 2011 as both Ford and Alcoa closed in the region.

But she said the Premier League win was a fitting moment for Geelong’s “revival”.

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Joel McCord

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