By David Nagel
Cat Robinson is living proof that you don’t need nine lives to cram in a lifetime of football memories.
The Cranbourne star will reach one of the magical milestones in football on Saturday when she runs out for her 300th game against St Kilda at Casey Fields.
And that’s only scratching the surface of a career that has seen the agile utility represent her state, win a premiership, and play on the mighty MCG.
This has been some sort of career, born at primary school due to a lack of opportunity for females to play our great game.
“It all started in grade six at Gardenvale Primary School because there was no youth girls competition back then,” Robinson, or Kitty to her mates, recalls.
“I was 12 and joined in with the boys and have loved it ever since. I remember we wore Melbourne jumpers – not good for someone who barracks for Carlton.”
Cat, part of the second set of twins in the Robinson family, learned to love football through her dad John, who also loved the Blues. This is a football family through and through.
She then joined the Parkdale Football Club where she used her athleticism, marking skills and long kick to play 186 games. She remembers her first season well.
“The grounds weren’t great back then and all I really remember is being a skinny kid running around in the mud and trying to get a kick,” she said.
“It was a lot more physical back then, on poor grounds, but I held my own and started to gain some confidence over the years.”
Cat was saddened when the Parkdale women’s team folded but found a new lease of life when joining Cranbourne. She is very appreciative of what football has brought to her life, and also appreciative of reaching a personal milestone.
“I’ve sort of set myself on playing 300 games and it’s great to finally reach a goal that I’ve had for quite some time,” she said.
“When I look back, I’ve been very lucky with the career I’ve had. I’ve played at the MCG, played for my state, and played in a premiership which not everyone gets to do.
“And I’ve been pretty lucky with injuries as well, and that durability factor probably helps enjoy the game when you love it as much as I do.”
Robinson started her career as a forward and booted a career-high nine goals playing at full-forward one day. But her love for the game was enhanced after being moved to the ruck.
“I really enjoyed playing in the ruck,” she explained.
“It’s a great position where you have the technical side of competing in the ruck contests, but then you also have to run all day and that tended to suit my athleticism.
“And you get to push forward or help out in defence – it’s just enjoyable to be a constant part of the game.”
Robinson has played in four grand finals, two at each club, and has one success story to tell after Cranbourne’s epic 2015 grand final win over Knox at Coburg City Oval.
The Eagles trailed by 18 points at three-quarter time before kicking 3.1 to no score in the final term to claim a thrilling one-point victory.
Robinson shared the stage that day with several players who would go on to play AFLW, with teammates Hayley Wildes, Bianca Jakobsson, Kirsten McLeod and Danielle Hardiman all going on to higher honours in the game.
Cranbourne's 2015 premiership remains a career highlight for Cat 'Kitty' Robinson.
Robinson has also played on the biggest stage that the sport has to offer, representing Vic Metro against Vic Country at the MCG.
She shared the spotlight that day with some legends of women’s football – including the most influential figure of all, Debbie Lee.
“It was the curtain raiser to a Carlton versus Collingwood game and all the girls were very nervous, “ Robinson recalls.
“Being a Carlton supporter it was almost like a dream come true to be playing on the MCG on the same day as the Blues.”
And she loves the off-field environment just as much as the on-field challenges.
“I love everything about footy, from the friendships to the beers after the game, it’s almost like I was born to be in this environment,” she said.
“And the footy trips are always great fun. I had to swim away from a sinking paddle boat in the middle of a lake once and then got stuck on a flying fox another time, so there’s never a dull moment.”
And is there anyone she would like to thank for helping her reach one of the great milestones in the game?
“There are so many people that have played a big role in me getting to play 300 games, but If I start mentioning people, I will forget some,” she said.
“But particular thanks to every coach and teammate I’ve had for their ongoing support. And obviously to my dad John for teaching us girls how to kick and how to play football.
“Without his love for the game, I probably wouldn’t have even started this football journey in the first place.”
Well done Cat Robinson – to play 300 games is one very special achievement.