25. The ‘rolling maul’ in the 1988 Grand Final
Winning the 1988 Grand Final by 96 points against the Melbourne Football Club, Hawthorn coach Alan Joyce described this passage of play with these words,
“I have never seen a more awesome, more inspiring passage of play than the 15-minute mark of the second quarter. I saw about a dozen Hawthorn players in a wave going down the field. It was a human chain, crashing through a desperate opposition and forcing the ball forward”.
The team of that era was filled with a constellation of star players who would often steal the focus, but this victory highlighted an aspect of that great Hawthorn team that would rarely get talked about and that is its heart and the players’ relentless desire and sheer bloody-mindedness to prevail in any circumstance.
The cost never mattered, whether it meant having your head kicked off whilst diving on a ball or your ribs crushed in order to win a contest. The self sacrifices were willing and endless.
This attitude defined the ‘Hawthorn-Way’ as described in our team song:
“Riding the bumps with a grin at Hawthorn
Come what may you’ll find us striving
Team work is the thing that talks
One for all and all for one
Is the way we play at Hawthorn
We are the mighty fighting Hawks”
24. Buddy’s final against the Western Bulldogs in 2008
In 2007, Buddy left us in wide eyed wonder after his stunning performance in the first elimination final against the Adelaide Crows, when he kicked an impressive 7 goals. However this was merely the entree to an even more amazing display the following year in the second qualifying final between the Hawks and the Western Bulldogs.
The ‘Scrays’ held the early ascendancy, however Buddy stepped in with a brilliant first quarter goal to put a halt to this and then fully flipped the game on its ear with an outrageous display of sheer talent.
His cat-like crumbing of goals demonstrated his genius along with his epic long bombs from way down town. Franklin was never much lauded for his overhead marking, in fact it was seen as a notable weakness in his game. However his strong mark and goal that followed on the lead defined how complete he was in this final.
Kicking an incredible 8 goals, this saw him equal Brereton and Moncrieff’s record for the most goals kicked in a final by a Hawthorn player. To this day, I still view this performance as his best in a Hawks jumper.
23. Last round at Kardinia Park against Geelong in 1987
It makes me laugh when Hawks fans and the media talk up Hawthorn’s supposed rivalry with Geelong. In my mind, rivalries are created out of heartache, something Geelong has never administered on us. In a sense, the relationship between the two clubs is defined by this saying,
‘You might cut us with a pen knife…but we bludgeon you with an axe…’
This game was delightful. After Stoneham kicked a Geelong goal deep in time on to put the Cats 9 points up, I still to this day remember hearing the exaltation on a nearby radio that ‘Geelong is going to make the ’87 finals…’
This would have put the fear into the rest of the final five teams, for the Cats were an erratic team that year but one that, at their best, put the fear of God into even the best of opposition teams. They could have won the flag from 5th position.
Enter Jason Dunstall. A goal to bring the margin back to 3 points. Then, with the siren imminent, the ball was in the hands of Russell ‘Fly’ Morris. I was behind the goals at the other end of the ground and saw him pump it forward. Rod ‘Snuff’ Lester-Smith had been thrown forward and was in a joust with his Geelong opponent as the ball hovered in the air. It went over flailing fingertips and fell into Dunstall’s lap. He went back with ice in his veins to score a goal, which put us in front and with the sounding of the siren, eliminated Geelong from the finals.
The irony is that after the game was dissected, it actually looked like the ball had gone over the post.
22. Smashing the Pies by 125 points at Victoria Park in 1987
This memory is based on a tradition of losing to Collingwood. In fact, after joining the VFL in 1925, our first 48 (out of 50) games against Collingwood were losses, including a record 29 game losing streak.
Victoria Park was a citadel of pain for the Hawks. Our supporters who were brave enough to venture there knew they would be mocked and that we were most likely going to lose. It was not until 1960 that we recorded our first victory at that dung heap, when John ‘Elvis’ Peck kicked a match winning goal after the siren.
The exultation felt in administering Collingwood’s worst ever defeat at Victoria Park would have delighted the many Hawthorn players, fans and coaches who had suffered there for so long in the past.
I remember Brian Taylor throwing a hissy fit in the last quarter, reminiscent of a two year old. He dragged the clipboard out of the hands of a Pies official and then threw it out of the ground. This just added to the sheer joy I felt, which was overwhelming.
Sadly, by that period in the game, the Collingwood fans had long run for the exits. They were like the quintessential rats fleeing the sinking ship, which sadly robbed this Hawks fan of the opportunity to borrow E J Whitten’s iconic catch cry: “STICK IT UP THEM!”
21. Chance Bateman getting life membership at the Club.
I often think to myself, ‘since coming here from Ireland in 1971, whose autobiography, out of all the numerous Hawthorn players I have seen play for the club, would I most enjoy reading?’
Without question, the answer is Chance Bateman.
Bateman was the second indigenous player to play senior football for Hawthorn, after Cyril Collard in the late 1950’s. Only the second Aboriginal player drafted after Willie Rioli in 1990, Bateman was Hawthorn’s first indigenous player to reach 100 and 150 games. He was also the first to receive life membership after 177 games at the club. He was, you could say, the first raindrop that led to the waterfall of many great indigenous players that followed.
Chance Bateman faced tragedy when his 15 year old sister Candace was killed in a train accident in 2001. This was during his early days at Hawthorn and he had to overcome the homesickness of being away from family which would have been compounded by this terrible incident. The club showed its heart by trying to facilitate a trade back to Western Australia in the aftermath of this event, however no interest was shown in Bateman by either of the WA clubs.
Bateman stayed, and the rest is history.
He is supremely underrated as a player and was a highly respected leader during a very fine Hawks era.