Without Cam Guthrie’s contributions, Geelong may not have beaten Hawthorn in the sides’ now-traditional Easter Monday AFL match at the MCG.
And Guthrie achieved impacting the match – with the Cats winning by a mere four-point margin – despite not even kicking a goal.
Guthrie amassed a career-best 43 possessions, ten clearances, and 11 marks.
“Career-best”: consider that for a moment.
Hard to believe, but Guthrie’s been around for longer than one would think.
Cam Guthrie is one of a collection of Geelong players still playing in the Cats’ famous blue-and-white hoops as a holdover from their last AFL Premiership in 2011, his two-match debut season finishing as a listed emergency in that title tilt.
When recalling the elder statesmen who remain from that last flag success, names such as Joel Selwood, Tom Hawkins and Mitch Duncan may spring to mind a bit more easily than Guthrie’s.
In that context, ten years of service can sneak up on one’s mind rather easily.
But despite having played 185 games for the Cats, and after several years of playing in a tagger’s role, Guthrie has really come into his own within the last two or three seasons as an on-baller, with last season being his signature campaign to date.
In 2020, Guthrie earned All Australian accolades following a season where he averaged 21 touches along with four clearances and 2.5 inside-50’s per match.
Based on his three-match averages for those statistics, he could shatter those high standards – especially that for possessions – by the end of 2021.
And Guthrie’s 43-disposal day against the Hawks – fairly split evenly between 20 kicks and 23 handballs – has not gone unnoticed.
“I think he got a lot of the ball, for sure,” Cats coach Chris Scott said after the match.
Scott also said that as Guthrie compiled a majority of his possessions that had an impact on the Cats kicking goals in the second and third terms when they were staked to as much as a 25-point lead, the match fed into Guthrie’s strengths.
“It wasn’t just the ball-getting [by him] that impressed me – he, along with [Brandon] Parfitt, are such good, crucial inside midfielders for us,” Scott said.
“Although we did chip it around a bit from time to time, and that could have padded his numbers a bit, but he was just so super on the inside for us,” Scott added.
And despite having to stave off Hawthorn’s brave fightback in the final term, Guthrie did enough damage as a team player to the benefit of the likes of Hawkins, Jack Henry, and other hard runners such as Parfitt, Jordan Clark and Gryan Miers to give Geelong the impetus to win the match.
“Sometimes you get lucky and the first thing the boys see is you with the ball. That’s the way it felt today, and all of us can expect that to continue,” said Guthrie.
Guthrie also did well to assume a greater load given the calibre of players the Cats have been missing.
Prized recruit Jeremy Cameron has yet to make his debut for the club as he recovers from a hamstring injury, Sam Menegola continues to be sidelined, and recent suspensions to Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Rohan have affected the Cats’ options through the middle and into the forward structure.
But neither Guthrie nor Scott were going to get caught up in placing any blame.
“We know we’re waiting for a lot of players to come back in, but we’re not going to make excuses. We just have to get backed into it all, and do a job,” Guthrie said.
“Good teams tend to find a way through,” said Scott.
Yet in the context of the flow of the match in addition to whom Geelong was missing, Scott feels blessed to have Guthrie in peak form.
“Cam Guthrie won our Best & Fairest last year, so we’re clear on his importance to the team,” he said.
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