Patrick Dangerfield and the two months that can silence every doubter

Patrick Dangerfield is, without doubt, one of the best players I’ve seen when at his bullocking and speedy best.

His resume speaks for itself: eight-time All Australian, three-time Geelong best and fairest, an Adelaide best and fairest, and to top it all off, a Brownlow Medallist.

Over the last decade, Dangerfield, Dustin Martin, and Nat Fyfe have occupied the conversation that surrounds who the best player in the competition was. Regardless of which one you thought was the best player, it speaks volumes of how good those three are to be in the conversation.

Dangerfield’s best was as chaotic and as courageous as any player I have ever seen. Nobody in the history of the game of Australian rules football attacked the ball harder than the man they call ‘Danger’.

It’s probably the perfect nickname for the boy from Moggs Creek, because when he beelines a contest, everyone is in danger, including himself.

His Brownlow Medal season of 2016 had to be seen to be believed. He ranked first in in total inside 50s per game, third in total disposals per game, first in total centre clearances, third in score involvements per game, and first in metres gained per game.

Fast forward to 2022, and Dangerfield’s drop-off over the last three years has been stark, whether it be due to injuries or just age.

Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats looks on with blood on his face

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

In 2019, Dangerfield was arguably one of the best players in the game still, but since then, the most disposals he has averaged is 23 which was last season. He isn’t hitting the scoreboard like he was when at the peak of his career, and ultimately at some stages, he has been somewhat of a liability defensively throughout the last three seasons.

However, this season has seen glimpses of the old Dangerfield. He has been managed much better this season than in seasons previous, only playing the 13 games out of a possible 20, which is a blessing the Cats could afford to do due to them being on top of the ladder.

Dangerfield has played the last four games in the run home into September and two of them have been match-winning performances.

In Round 17 against the Demons, the reigning premiers, in what was a top-of-the-table clash, Dangerfield was arguably the best afield. Thirty-one disposals, nine clearances, eight inside 50s, and four behinds. If he kicks straight, it’s one of the best games from a player we would have seen all season.

What was more impressive though – maybe not on the stat sheet, but through pure leadership and determination, was last week against the Dogs.

With the Cats being four goals down and under immense pressure in the first term, it was Dangerfield who stemmed the flow and then countered in a way only Geelong can. Seven clearances and six inside 50s yet again got his team back into the game.

Which brings me to the whole point of this article: Patrick Dangerfield has seven games to prove himself as an immortal and an all-time great of this sport.

The man has won everything there is to win in the game, bar that elusive premiership. And if there’s one criticism of Dangerfield, it is his ability to win finals off his own boot like he does in the home-and-away season.

In a football world where it seems like everything is looking up for the Cats and Dangerfield, it seems like their dynasty is to win a premiership and to top off the most consistently successful era the game has ever seen. With no Hawthorn and no Richmond to compete against, the time is now for the Cats.

Seven games, Danger, and you win and get respected the way you wanted to when you first walked out onto a ground as an Adelaide Crow. It’s up to you and your two old mates in Joel Selwood and Tom Hawkins.

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