by Books with Balls debutant, Glenn Jessop.
As a life-long suffering – and recently purring – GeelongCats supporter, it was with relish that I recently sat down to bask in thenostalgia of my team’s premiership triumphs as documented in Scott Gullan’s The Mission 2: The inside story of Geelong’s 2007 and 2009 AFL Premierships. The book details the club’s warts and all review following a torrid season in 2006, watershed flag in 2007, devastating loss in 2008 through to their epic and inspiring 2009 win.
The strength of this book lies in the expose of a club’s inner workings. It draws on honest accounts from the players and administration (in particular, the CEO and President) to shed light on the bonds, bravado and breaks within the playing group and support staff. Often hidden from the general public, the description of the physical strain on players is fascinating and highlights the grueling and gut-wrenching nature of the game.
Although the blow-by-blow accounts of each game are somewhat monotonous, Gullan manages to inject life into the text by telling the stories of individual players, from the enigmatic Steve Johnson to Matthew Stokes, Cameron Mooney, Tom Harley, Jimmy Bartel, Shane Mumford and sons of Gary Ablett senior. We hear of the hunger to play at the highest level, the agony and anguish of injury, the painful dilemmas and emotional toll of team selection, the inimitable bond with team-mates and the maturation of young men as they grasp and respond to the demands of AFL football.
Indulgent by nature, this book offers a satisfying description of an elite team in its prime, a diverse group of men pursuing and living every child’s dream. Footballs.
Image courtesy: thebookbarn.com.au