SOME footy writers have declared Geelong to be Hawthorn's hoodoo team after they beat us last Saturday for the eighth time in a row.
Getting beaten by less than a kick doesn't mean a side has the wood over you, though. It's simply a case of one side taking more of its chances on the day.
Perhaps the fact the Cats have won a few against us has more to do with the fact they have been a very good side for a number of years rather than any hoodoo or mental edge.
My view is commentators make a living from sharing their thoughts. That is why they come up with theories.
Recent history between the clubs doesn't really enter your mind on the ground. In looking at the game again on Monday, we had our chances. We had five scoring chances we'd usually kick, and we kicked five behinds. On the flip side, Geelong had a couple they missed as well but they took more of their chances than we did. That's the pressure of a high-standard game.
When top sides play against each other it does go up a gear. Barring disaster, both of these sides will be playing finals. The same could be said of games involving Collingwood, Carlton or West Coast. Even in the regular season they have a finals-like intensity.
On the ground we weren't conscious of the actual record. We were conscious of Geelong's structures, the quality of certain players, and that they will stand up at the end of the game. It is because they are a great side and we have a terrific rivalry.
Players like Cameron Ling and Brad Ottens have retired but their loss is offset by Geelong's mid-tier players stepping up.
You can mention Tomahawk (Tom Hawkins) — he is now a genuine power player of the competition. He is physically more of a presence than he was and has grown into his body.
As for the game, we learned a lot out of it. You learn a lot more out of a game like that rather than one you win by three or four goals. It reinforces that we need to look at our ball movement and our structures.
Close games don't leave scars as such, but thrashings do.
In the early days against Port it felt that way because of the manner in which they beat us. They beat us by 100 points three times in row and it had an effect.
Every club has sides they prefer playing more than others because of past success. I wouldn't put it in terms of how many goals advantage it might be worth before the game starts but it does put a spring in your step.
There are quite a few thrashings at the moment, especially with the two start-up sides, Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast.
It means the draw has been compromised because you only play some sides once and some twice. With the two start-up sides there is an anomaly. In two years time it might not be an issue because they should be more competitive.
The draw is based around TV ratings and crowds but it will affect potential ladder position.
There is a gulf opening up between the best in the competition and it is growing. The bottom sides are finding it increasingly hard to beat top sides.
Whether the AFL looks at a two-tiered competition, I'm not sure, but at the moment it is not a great look.
It is purely a function of the economics. Some clubs are not being able to spend as much on their football department, coaches, facilities, experts, welfare, and all the little things.
They only need to make a few per cent difference but they add up and it's an enormous difference on the scoreboard.
Hawthorn is very well served in that area. We are aware of other clubs that are behind the eight ball in that regard.
It is the way it is. You can't really limit a club's spending in those areas.
Another club very well served in that regard is Adelaide. We play them tomorrow and know it will be a tough, close game because the Crows are very fit and very disciplined.