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Letting the Cat out of the bag

Cameron Mooney warns that he and a group of Geelong's elder statesmen hope to go out with another premiership.

Cameron Mooney warns that he and a group of Geelong's elder statesmen hope to go out with another premiership.

CAMERON Mooney remembers better than most Shane Crawford's fairytale finish in 2008 and says he and other Geelong veterans poised to announce their retirements soon want to end their careers in similar style.

The image of Crawford and the Hawks celebrating the 2008 premiership still haunts Mooney and many of his teammates, who were forced to stand and watch.

Mooney yesterday announced his intention to retire at the end of 2011, but not before warning that he and a group of the club's other elder statesmen hoped to emulate Crawford and go out with another premiership.

The possibility that their fairytale finish could come at the expense of Crawford's old club won't be lost on Mooney either, with the Cats and Hawthorn likely to collide at some point during the finals series.

''I do believe in fairytale finishes,'' the three-time premiership player said before telling his teammates of his retirement at training yesterday.

''Unfortunately we saw first hand Shane Crawford get his. Hopefully I can be the next 'Crawf' and get mine,'' he said.

''I think there might be another couple of boys that might be [retiring] in a couple of weeks as well. So it would be nice if a few of us went out with another one.''

Neither Mooney nor coach Chris Scott would reveal which other Cats might retire at the end of the year, but the club has 11 players on its list who are 29 or older, including Darren Milburn, 34, Brad Ottens, 31, Cameron Ling, 30, and David Wojcinski, 30.

Mooney's chances of holding down a key forward spot and playing a role in finals increased yesterday, albeit in unfortunate circumstances, with the Cats revealing that youngster Nathan Vardy would miss the rest of the season after having hip surgery.

Mooney has made no secret that this year will be his last and he has spent basically all of 2011 trying to get his injury-riddled body ready for the business end of the season. The former All-Australian declared yesterday that his body was feeling as good as it has in 18 months and Scott gave a strong indication that a fully fit Mooney would play finals, rating him as definitely in the club's best side.

''At his best he is well and truly in our best 18, better than that, in our best dozen,'' he said.

This Saturday's game against Sydney was supposed to be the spearhead's Skilled Stadium farewell, but Mooney will miss the game through suspension.

The 31-year-old acknowledged that ''suspension had reared its ugly head again'' to cost him a special moment in a career that, at times, has been dogged by on-field indiscretions.

Mooney has been suspended 12 times, totalling 18 missed games, during a 15-year career that started as pick 56 for North Melbourne in the 1996 national draft.

But Mooney said his tribunal record was part of him ''wearing his heart on his sleeve for the club'' and he was more than satisfied with what he had achieved, a career that includes 221 games, 297 goals, two premierships with Geelong, another with North Melbourne, and All-Australian selection in 2007.

''I'm just a boy from Wagga Wagga who didn't really care too much about playing AFL football when I was young. So to have achieved all that, it's pretty amazing,'' he said.

Mooney spoke yesterday of his love for ''playing for the hoops'' and with his teammates, and those sentiments were backed up strongly by Scott, who rated him one of the most ''passionate and competitive Geelong people of all time''.

Mooney said he hoped to get a job in the media post-retirement or land a role with the Cats, possibly in the club's advertising or sponsorship departments.

Scott said last week's bye had allowed defenders Matthew Scarlett, Darren Milburn, Andrew Mackie and forward Tom Hawkins to overcome injuries, meaning all four would be available this weekend.

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