THE Bendigo Gold’s Friday night football experiment proved a resounding success for the club last night, with a massive crowd turning out at the Queen Elizabeth Oval to watch its VFL game against Geelong.
However, on-field it was a tough night for the Gold as for the second week in a row they were comprehensively beaten, losing to Matthew Knights’ Cats by 86 points.
Just like the week before against the Northern Blues, the Gold were slow out of the blocks and never in the contest as the Cats won 23.9 (147) to 8.13 (61).
However, while disappointed with the result, Gold chairman Peter Lodewijks couldn’t have been happier with the size of the crowd to watch the game.
“We had no idea what to expect as far as the crowd goes,” Lodewijks said.
“We were hoping that with a nice day and big club in Geelong playing that we would get a reasonable crowd, but the amount of people who came certainly exceeded what we thought.
“We actually got caught out by the number of people there and before the game we had to get some extra people on the gates because of the amount of people coming through. So from that point of view it was very positive.
“It’s the biggest crowd we’ve had in a long time, and I believe that Friday night footy is the perfect spot for us, even when the weather is not that great.
“We’ve just got to prove to the VFL that it’s a good thing to do and put some pressure on the other clubs to make sure they do it.”
Geelong burst out of the blocks with a dominant opening quarter that set up its impressive win.
With Orren Stephenson dominating the ruck and the Cats controlling the centre clearances, they kicked the first five goals of the game in the opening 20 minutes.
Three of those goals were kicked by key forward Mitch Brown, and by the end of the night he would prove one of the big differences between the two sides.
The Cats led by 22 points at quarter-time, 5.1 to 1.3, with Bendigo’s sole goal of the term coming with 22 seconds left on the clock when Justin Maddern marked and converted.
The slick Geelong extended its advantage at every break, leading by 46 points at half-time and 52 at three quarter-time, before the final margin of 86.
Brown put his name forward for a recall to the Geelong senior team next week, finishing with 9.3 as he almost outscored Bendigo off his own boot.
Geelong’s other key forwards in Josh Walker (four) and Shane Kersten (three) provided good support with seven goals between them.
Bendigo was at its best in the third quarter when it kicked four of its eight goals, with Jacob Thompson presenting well, kicking three for the term and finishing the match with four.
A standout feature of the Cats was their accuracy, kicking 23 goals from 32 scoring shots, while Bendigo squandered too many chances on a night when it needed to capitalise.