Tyson Stengle, Tom Stewart and Brandon Parfitt during the 2022 AFL Round 1 match between Geelong and Essendon (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

For the past couple of seasons, Geelong have been constantly mentioned in the same breath as 'retirement home'. This constant link, which has stemmed from Geelong's older list age, begins to get tiresome when repeated hundreds, or what feels like hundreds, of times throughout the season.

During the 2021 trade period, we saw former Hawthorn ruckman Jonathon Ceglar make his way across to the Cats to provide extra ruck cover for Rhys Stanley. Ceglar, 31, added to the narrative and jokes surrounding the Cats' age.

Even when young Gaelic star, Oisin Mullin, turned his back on a move to the Cats, comments underneath the announcement were filled with mentions of the Cats' list age.

Yes, the Cats have an ageing list, with 29% of the squad being aged 30 or older, but is it really a limitation for success?

Geelong would arguably have a selection of the best over 30-year-old players in the competition. Spearhead Tom Hawkins, who will turn 34 this year, is still at the peak of his powers. He won the Coleman Medal in 2020 and has been selected in the past two All- Australian sides.

Hawkins' contested marking, goalkicking, forward 50 ruck craft and selflessness make him easily in the top bunch of big men in the league at the moment.

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2016 Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield, who had a disappointing 2021 due to injuries and suspension, has been backed for a big 2022 by those in the inner circles at the Cats. While it was only one game, Danger reminded those of what he can offer at the age of 32 in his best-on-ground performance against Essendon in Round 1.

Then there are names like Mitch Duncan, who is one of the more underrated players in the competition, and freak athlete Mark Blicavs, who still plays like he is in his 20s.

Isaac Smith continues to use his raking left kick and pace effectively in the blue and white hoops. Smith finished fourth in the Carji Greeves Medal count in his first season at the Cats at the age of 32.

Irishman Zach Tuohy still shows a brilliant ability for Chris Scott's side. On top of that, endurance athlete Sam Menegola has been super impressive in the past few seasons in the Cats' midfield and came close to earning an All-Australian blazer in 2020.

Age does (and will) catch up to players as we've seen form dips for champions like Joel Selwood, Shaun Higgins, Rhys Stanley and Gary Rohan, but they are still extremely important players for the Geelong side. The ability of these players would still fit into most 22's in the competition despite their age.

Geelong does have an ageing list but they have begun targeting and blooding fresh youngsters into the AFL, as they've done for the past decade successfully.

Fans and pundits alike have labelled the Cats as too old or too slow every season for the past 10 years, consistently defying the odds to be near the top come September.

Yes, their finals record isn't a good look, though this has more to do with play style than having an ageing list.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - MAY 26: Mark Blicavs of the Cats and Patrick Kerr of the Blues compete for the ball during the 2018 AFL round 10 match between the Geelong Cats and the Carlton Blues at GMHBA Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

The Cats are quietly developing an impressive core group of players between the ages of 20-24 and have nine players currently under the age of 20 on their list, with some impressing already during the pre-season.

Tough onballer Brandan Parfitt, pacey midfielder Max Holmes, young defender Sam De Koning and versatile forward Ollie Dempsey are set to lead the Cats' next generation.

Down back, 23-year-old Jack Henry continues to shine, finishing second in the Carji Greeves last season and will no doubt push for All-Australian selection in the coming years.

Crafty forward Brad Close and new recruit Tyson Stengle have quickly cemented their places in Chriss Scott's attack, sharing plenty of the scoreboard impact.

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You also needed to look no further than Geelong's emergency list on that day, which featured two potential debutants in Cooper Whyte and Cooper Stephens, a two-gamer in Francis Evans and 24-year-old Quinton Narkle.

Having these young players quietly come through while learning the ropes from the likes of Hawkins, Selwood, Dangerfield and Higgins etc. shows promise of the Cats' future.

While the comments of the retirement home ultimately do not have any effect on the Geelong Football Club, the idea that the team is rusty, old and slow is simply not the case.

Featuring some of the most talented and athletically gifted 30-year-olds in the league and building an impressive group of young talent, Geelong is in good stead heading into the rest of 2022, with the likelihood they will, once again, be in the final eight.

This is not meant to shut down any worries of the age of the list but rather show that it is not all doom and gloom as it appears to some in the media. The Cats will inevitably face a drop when the big names leave, but they continue to show that they are a tough side to beat, even if all their players need walking frames.