Joy as threat to win streak fails

Back left: Les Borrack, Bert Worner, Geoff Williams, Russ Middlemiss, Terry Fulton, Peter Pianto and Bruce Morrison. Front left: Bill McMaster, Ron Hovey, Neil Trezise, Fred Flanagan, Russ Renfrey and Bob Davis.  
Monday, April 29
Geelong Advertiser

RON Hovey couldn't get off the phone, Bobby Davis praised the Lord and Hooker Renfrey downed a couple of long necks to celebrate.

The Cats of 1952-53 were rejoicing on Saturday night after holding on to their place in Australian rules history.

West Coast's upset win over Brisbane brought to an end the reigning premier's 20-match winning streak, keeping intact one of the oldest records in the game.

The Cats' 23-match winning streak under Reg Hickey lives on and there was no more appropriate place for the men responsible to celebrate than at the past players' stand at Kardinia Park yesterday.

``I'm as happy as Larry,'' Renfrey enthused.

``It's divine intervention; all those prayer meetings worked,'' Davis offered.

Hovey couldn't wait to get to the ground yesterday - the bragging rights would continue for at least another season.

``All my mates rang last night, all me old cobbers were all excited,'' Hovey said.

``When you looked at the draw it was hard to see who was going to beat Brisbane, it's tremendous that someone did.''

After the Lions rolled Essendon a fortnight ago, many in the class of '52-'53 were willing to concede their record was heading north.

If the 23 wins was conquered, they could at least hold on to their unbeaten streak of 26. (The 24th match in the sequence was a draw.)

The past players have been glued to their TVs and radios in recent weeks, following the Lions' progress, hoping they would trip up.

The phones began ringing Saturday before the final siren had sounded in the west.

``I thought they'd get over it (the record) easily. It's 50 years and it's time to be broken, or so I thought,'' said Renfrey, the only player to have played in all 26 of the Cats' unbeaten streak.

Davis, the Geelong Flyer, had a suspicion the arduous trip west might bring the Lions undone.

``It's a long trip and with the time difference, it must throw them out,'' he said.

It is a far cry from the ``marathon'' road trips his team made during the streak, a two-hour bus ride to Glenferrie Oval or Victoria Park.

The trip was considered so taxing on the players, that Hickey would have the bus stop in the heart of Werribee and the players walk a kilometre or two to the outskirts of town before hopping back aboard.

``We'd stretch our legs in Werribee and walk off the steak and eggs we had at the cafe in Geelong before we got on the bus,'' Hovey said.

``Then for the trip home there'd be a card game, a few bottles for the drinkers down the back of the bus and we'd have a sing-song. After 23 wins our voices were gone. Yes, they were the good days.''

And a few more to come, thanks to the Eagles.