Thrilling matches, tense finals, huge marks and a series of unforgettable storylines made the 2019 AFL season one to remember.
The evenness of the AFL’s top bracket of sides was shown by the fact just one win separated Geelong, who finished first, and the fifth-placed West Coast, while Greater Western Sydney went from sixth to reach the grand final after a stunning September run.
It was Richmond who would ultimately win the premiership, their second in three years, Damien Hardwick’s side finishing the season full of momentum.
A new campaign brings fresh hope for all 18 clubs, though, and our 2019 season reviews take a look at what went right, what went wrong, each side’s best players and how every club can improve.
The next team in the spotlight is Geelong.
- Ladder position: First
- Eventual finish: Preliminary finalists
- Home and away win-loss ratio: 16-6
- Home and away percentage: 135.7
Geelong Football Club AFL 2019 Season Performance Review
Geelong were the team to beat in the first half of the 2019 season, losing just one game until Round 14 in an ominous run of form. That defeat was by just four points, too, as a midfield containing the likes of Tim Kelly, Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood proved very difficult to stop. A miserly defence was also helping the Cats, but they ran into trouble after the mid-season bye, failing to string two wins in a row together from June to the end of the season. That inconsistency did not stop Geelong from finishing first but it did mean the Cats stuttered their way into September. The double chance meant a qualifying final loss to Collingwood did not end their season, but after beating West Coast, the Cats were sent packing by eventual premiers Richmond in a preliminary final.
Plenty of pundits were writing Geelong off ahead of their semi-final against West Coast. Since winning the 2011 premiership, the Cats had played in 12 finals, triumphing in just three of them. A clash against the reigning premiers would provide Chris Scott’s side with a major test and after kicking five of the first six goals, a sloppy third quarter saw them trailing at the final break. Geelong dug deep in the final term, though, kicking four goals to none to win by 20 points. Selwood was tremendous in midfield, while Cam Guthrie won 33 disposals in a classy performance. Tom Hawkins kicked four goals, too, as the Cats recorded a morale-boosting win.
A 34-point loss to Fremantle – who finished 13th – in Round 20 was Geelong’s heaviest defeat of the season. But the lowlight has to be the preliminary final defeat to Richmond, given the Cats led by 21 points at half time. Geelong were terrific in that first half and seemed on the verge of another grand final appearance. But the Cats wilted after the break, managing just two goals, as Richmond stormed home to win by 19 points.
The best and fairest
Patrick Dangerfield won his third Carji Greeves Medal in 2019, narrowly edging out Tim Kelly for the honour. Dangerfield has been a Geelong player for just four years but his consistently brilliant form saw him become just the eighth player in club history to win the medal for a third time. Tom Stewart had a terrific year down back and finished third, ahead of Hawkins and Mark Blicavs.
Dangerfield is a proven Brownlow Medal vote-getter and he polled 27 to finish outright second – six behind winner Nathan Fyfe. Teammate Kelly finished fifth, with 24 votes, and the pair took votes off each other throughout the count. Gary Ablett’s moments of class were rewarded with 13 votes, while Mitch Duncan won 11 to finish in a share of 32nd.
No team had more players in the final All-Australian team than Geelong, with four Cats in the 22-man side. Kelly and Dangerfield were obvious picks, while Stewart was named in a back pocket and Hawkins took the full-forward spot. Ablett and Blicavs were also selected in the 40-man squad but missed the team.
The goal kickers
Hawkins continued his consistency in front of goal, booting 56 majors in 2019. Since 2012, Hawkins has kicked at least 46 goals in every season and the powerful forward was a major threat again in 2019. He was suspended for Geelong’s preliminary final and was a major loss. Just five players in the competition kicked more goals than Hawkins in 2019 and Ablett spent more time in the forward line than he had previously, a move that culminated in him adding 34 goals. Small forward Gryan Miers chipped in with 28, too, while Dangerfield kicked 27.
The reason to be hopeful
Kelly might have departed to West Coast but the Cats added Jack Steven and Josh Jenkins in the trade period – two players who should make an impact. Geelong still bat very deep in midfield, with Dangerfield, Selwood, Duncan, Dahlhaus and Ablett sure to see the Cats return to September. Geelong’s imposing home record is another positive and the key for the Cats is to find consistency towards the back end of the season.