Geelong justifies its alternative approach by landing the club's 10th premiership

Geelong famously broke a 44-year premiership drought back in 2007. But the Cats' first flag for 11 years on Saturday, won in a canter against Sydney, might well be every bit as important a historical landmark for the club.

Why? Because this was the ultimate tribute to two qualities, that in these impatient times, are often in short supply, particularly in AFL football. Persistence. And resistance.

The Cats' previous premiership, in 2011, in football terms seems an eternity ago. Since then, Geelong had come up short in no fewer than five preliminary finals and a Grand Final. Just once had they failed to be part of September. There's your persistence.

Resistance? Well, virtually each time those campaigns had fallen short, much of the football world had penned some sort of obituary for an era. On several occasions, it hardly seemed a stretch.

Like 2015, the one time the Cats couldn't make the eight. Two years later, when they were demolished by Richmond and Adelaide in two finals. Or 2018, when they were comprehensively beaten in an elimination final by Melbourne. And especially last year, when the Demons did a number on them, an 83-point preliminary final belting.

Surely at some stage, Geelong had to shut up shop, put its considerable army of old stagers out to pasture, and start again?

Well, no. The Cats, under Scott, have rewritten the rule book. It turns out that age needn't be a handicap, but a blessing. It turns out that it is possible to compete in the here and now whilst still keeping an eye on the future. And this 81-point obliteration of Sydney was the definitive proof.

No premiership team has been anything like this old. No fewer than 10 players in this team are older than 30. But just look at their contributions throughout this magnificent season by Geelong, and particularly in the most important game of them all.

Norm Smith medallist Isaac Smith, playing in his fifth Grand Final, and celebrating his fourth premiership medal with 32 disposals and three goals, will turn 34 before the new year. He becomes the oldest player to win the medal, surpassing Kevin Bartlett, who was 32 in 1980.

Second in the Norm Smith voting was Patrick Dangerfield, who had 27 disposals, nine clearances and six goal assists, his two best games of the season might have been the last, and most important two.

It was skipper Joel Selwood, 34 years of age, who set the tone for this demolition job with his 12-disposal first term. Playing his 40th final, 15 years after his first, in doing so breaking the long-standing record of the great Hawk Michael Tuck. Selwood was superb.

His toil as Cat captain was finally repaid. And you only had to look at the way the midfield warrior was buried under an avalanche of delirious teammates when he snapped the 19th of Geelong's 20 goals to see the esteem in which he is held.

Smith booted two of the Cats' six first-term goals. The first two had come from magnificent bustling ruckwork by ageless key forward Tom Hawkins, now 34 but seemingly just getting better by the season, the AFL's own version of Benajmin Button.

Mark Blicavs, another fine Geelong performer with 23 disposals in his customary jack-of-all-trades role, chipped in with another first-term Sydney morale sapper.

Sydney did manage to restore some equilibrium in the second term, outscored by only one point, three goals apiece for the quarter. With the half-time gap 36 points, it was unlikely, but still not inconceivable, that the Swans could mount some sort of comeback.

But that possibility was effectively extinguished within 90 seconds of the resumption, when Sydney defender Tom McCartin attempted to weave his way out of trouble and was promptly nailed in possession by a desperate Mitch Duncan.

Duncan, who finished with 27 disposals and was a consistent presence for the Cats throughout, hammered effectively the final nail in the Swans' coffin. And by the time Smith kicked his third only a couple of minutes later, it was 54 points and game, set and match.

Geelong coach Chris Scott, who now holds a phenomenal 70 per cent win-loss ratio, has a second premiership to underscore that achievement. Along with an accompanying determination not to poke out his tounge at what has at times been a dubious football world.

"I fully recognise we've taken a contrarian view," he said of the Cats' list management approach, one which has seen them both promote youth but still resolutely trade in established talent, the likes of Smith, Dangerfield, Jeremy Cameron, Gary Rohan, Zac Tuohy, Rhys Stanley, etc, etc. We knew we were taking some risks, but we backed it in and trusted our people." Smith, sitting alongside Scott at the victorious post-match press conference, spoke of the increasing calmness which has accompanied each of his Grand Final appearances.

"We approach games with a certain level of composure," he said in a nice touch of understatement.

Geelong's 10th premiership was won by a team which by Grand Final day, had a real sense of destiny about it. It wasn't ageing, it was seasoned. It wasn't desperate to make good on a decade of unfulfilled dreams, it was more determined to do itself justice.

The Cats did all that and more in this superb season of triumph. And in doing so, may well have permanently rewritten the book on how we view age and experience when it comes to AFL football.