HAVING a busy AFL grand final week is a familiar experience for Colac district’s top-level football exports.
Alvie’s Paul Lynch and Irrewarra’s Darren Forssman were involved with the week-long pandemonium – which the modern-day Cats are experiencing ahead of their grand final against Collingwood tomorrow – during their time with Geelong in the early ‘90s.
Stars including Gary Ablett Snr, Bill Brownless, Garry Hocking and Mark Bairstow led the Cats to four grand finals between 1989 and 1995, though they failed to bring home a breakthrough flag.
Forssman, 41, started at Irrewarra and Colac before Geelong approached him and he made his AFL debut in 1990.
The small forward was in line for selection in the 1992 grand final loss against West Coast before an ankle injury restricted him to the emergency list.
But Forssman said grand final week was still an experience to remember.
“It’s a pretty awesome experience, the amount of people around, the parade, the amount of publicity,” he said.
“They were the first grand finals I’d been to, it was fantastic.”
Lynch, who coached Birregurra to a premiership this season, joined the Cats a year later.
Injury also played a part in the forward missing selection in the 1995 grand final loss to Carlton after he played in the qualifying final.
“I suffered a fair bit of disappointment when it came to finals footy, but in the end we got rolled in all of them,” Lynch said.
“But it was still an amazing experience to play on great grounds in front of so many people, it’s a massive commitment and these days you’ve really got to be made of the right stuff,” he said.
Hamstring and back injuries had Lynch play just 62 games before the club delisted him in 2000, having averaged 11.9 disposals and 2.7 marks a game.
Forssman said it was an impressive time to be involved at Kardinia Park.
“Playing with players like Ablett, Bairstow, Hocking, Andrew Bews, there were some great names, it was a pretty good era,” he said.
“We didn’t win any grand finals but we were certainly one of the better sides going around.
“It was just an experience being involved, I got selected to train for Victoria in 1992 but just playing AFL was a highlight in itself.”
Forssman, who was co-coach at Geelong West St Peters this season, finished with the Cats in 1994 – with career averages of 15.2 disposals and 2.2 marks from his 45 games.
Colac’s Joffy Simpkin is the only player involved with Geelong these days, while former Lorne footballers Jack Hollmer and Jaxson Barham play with the Cats’ VFL team.