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Cats’ Stengle wins flag in AFL fairytale

The AFL’s story of the year had a fairytale ending.

Within 18 months, Tyson Stengle has gone from career limbo, after being sacked by Adelaide in March 2021, to a premiership hero for Geelong.

The electric small forward topped off an extraordinary debut season with the Cats by kicking a game-high four goals in the 81-point grand final rout of the Sydney Swans.

When Geelong took a chance on Stengle as a delisted free agent in November 2021, in nobody’s wildest dreams could they have predicted the impact he would have.

A prodigiously talented forward, the 23-year-old had made several mistakes off the field, and barely shown anything on it.

Stengle had kicked 16 goals in 15 games, across four seasons with the Crows and Richmond.

But he finished season one at Geelong with 53 goals, an All-Australian jacket and a premiership medallion.

Fellow star Geelong forward Jeremy Cameron sensed something special was brewing the day Stengle arrived.

“He (Stengle) had a point to prove, we sort of knew that the day he rocked up at the club,” Cameron told reporters in the victorious Geelong rooms.

“He doesn’t say much but this group complements him really well. We just let him be Tyson.”

Cameron believes Geelong and Stengle have been the perfect match for each other.

“He doesn’t say much, he’s late to meetings sometimes, he goes with the flow,” Cameron said.

“But if you want to rock up a kick four goals in grand final and then 53 goals for the year as a small forward is absolutely incredible.

Helping Stengle’s cause was having legendary forward Eddie Betts taking on an assistant coaching job with Geelong after retiring at the end of Carlton’s 2021 season.

Betts had a major positive influence on Stengle when the pair played together in Adelaide, and it continued when they linked up again.

Having his life on track off the field, Cats supporters should be able to look forward to many more seasons of Stengle giving opposition defenders nightmares.

Stengle was able to soak in the success with Betts and his wife Anna in the Cats’ rooms.

But that was only after Geelong’s singing of the song was delayed by almost 10 minutes because Stengle was pulled away to be drug tested.

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