AFL Grand Final: Who Are Those Guys?

The Hawks were probably singing “Hakuna Matata” at quarter time.
But this game didn’t remind me of The Lion King. It reminded me of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; the Hawks were Butch and Sundance, the Swans the hunting party they couldn’t shake.
“Who are those guys?” the Hawks were asking all day; incredulous at the tenacity of their opponent.
In the movie Butch and Sundance had all the tricks. They were young, cocky, and skilled in the art of winning. They were untouchable. There was no situation they couldn’t get out of. A handsome Paul Newman was Butch. A dashing Robert Redford was Sundance. Buddy and Rioli.
The Swans would not be able to go with them.
“Who are those guys?” the Hawks asked at half time as the pesky Swans had turned a 19 point quarter time deficit into a 16 point lead.
Incredibly the Hawks kicked one point for the quarter, the Swans six goals. In the first half the Swans had a player with the audacity to make Rioli look slow, and another bloke from Canada (forchrissakes!) who dominated the ruck. They also had a kid from a rugby background tearing them apart at the stoppages, and, perhaps most galling of all the Swans had a couple of stocky blond hard nuts who spent their school days right under the collective Hawthorn nose. These same hard nuts were now breaking Hawthorn’s back.
Buddy and Rioli were getting cold. Clarkson sat stunned in the coaches’ box. His eyes were wide and full of fear. His assistants sat poised to move the names around the white magnetic board, but Clarko was glued to his seat and his mind was glued to Plan A.
“Who are those guys?” he kept asking as a Swan with a full beard and a Polish name spun out of defence, and a mighty athlete who carries the Hawthorn name, Kennedy, grabbed the game by the throat.
“Who are those guys?” Buddy asked his team mates at half time.
The third quarter was a false dawn for the Hawks. Clarkson fell for the old two card trick as Plan A slipped into gear – albeit belatedly.
Buddy unleashed a power house quarter. He bombed home two goals that travelled so high they went into lower orbit. Hale and Gunston and Smith ripped into the scoreboard. Sewell was giving the no name Swans mid field a head ache, and the world was in balance again. The Hawks were a mere point behind at the last break.
“Who do they think they are?” the Hawks were asking at three quarter time, grinning like movie stars.
The Swans had a few flesh wounds. Goodes had done a cruciate ligament, and Bolton had done two. But they kept pounding away. As the Hawks went on their merry way the Swans tightened the sling shot.
Breust and Hale kicked the winners for the Hawks. With a two goal lead after ten minutes of the last quarter the Swans were shot. Clarkson’s face had changed. He was no longer a ten year old who’d just watched Halloween. He was now Clarko, coaching genius, strategist extraordinaire, master of the universe. He still hadn’t made a move all day.
The Hawks flashed a few at goal but missed. No matter. Gunston, Breust and Sewell all missed shots. Whatever. The Hawks were home.
But Ryan O’Keefe had other ideas. We’ll tackle our way to victory, he must have thought. And he set about his task. By game’s end he’d chalked up 15 of the buggers. This began to create space again. Jetta was firing on only three cylinders but others chipped in. Hannebery kicked a goal. Kieran Jack another.
“Who are those guys?” Clarkson asked perplexed. Anxiety resided on his forehead.
Then Goodes, having momentarily delayed his leg amputation, plucked a ball off the pack and bounced it at the goals. It jumped and skipped and hung in the air on the goal line like a rain drop clinging to an autumn leaf. We waited for the Hawk defender to arrive and punch it through. Would it be Gibson? Perhaps Lewis? But they didn’t come. The ball plopped over the goal line. The Swans were in front.
“Who are those guys?” Clarkson asked anyone who would listen. The white magnet board was on the floor. No one took any notice of it.
The Hawks were playing petrified football. Hodge, a marvel in his own right, was so distraught he began to tackle himself. It was almost sad. Almost.
The ball wobbled between forward fifty zones. It stayed uncomfortably long at the Hawks end. But O’Keefe and his mates were crushing their space. It was relentless. Eventually the ball was mongrelled into the Swans forward half. Buddy and Rioli could only look on; playing their designated roles for the team, maintaining the structures.
Then that bloke popped up again; the happy looking bloke with the big beard and the Polish name. He received a handpass about 30 metres out, swivelled like he was dancing at a Polish wedding and threw the ball at his left boot. The contact was good; very good. It sailed gently over the Hawks defenders; a peaceful hot air balloon on a Sunday morning.
Game over.
“Who are those guys?” Clarkson asked his assistants, but they’d all gone home.

About Damian O'Donnell

OK - which is the odd one out: Love the Cats and flannelette shirts, especially in winter. I get on extremely well with red wine. We just seem to hit it off. Love horse racing in Spring. Used to love cricket. Go to Stawell every Easter and contemplate life around the fire. Love water skiing, especially in summer. Get meaning from catching a beautiful curling wave. Love a great oil painting. Will read most things put in front of me. Thought 'The Sopranos' was the best TV show ever made - by miles. Run an accounting practice in Melbourne's suburbs.

Comments

  1. Skip of Skipton says:

    The bearded one is of slavic Macedonian heritage. They have ‘ski’ names also.

  2. ‘Lord Baltimore’ was the indigenous tracker who was always there leading the chase.

    He left his ‘bota ‘ in the sheds, perhaps due to the threat of rain, but was highly distinguishable with the No 37 on his back.

  3. Matt Zurbo says:

    Top stuff, Dips!

  4. Emma Rene says:

    I would watch that movie!
    Absolutely loved it Dips – and your “almost” had me laughing.
    Cheers, Emma.

  5. Emma – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid should be on the carriculum in every school.

    As an old bloke with a hat used to say……”Do yourself a favour”

    Great film.

  6. Craig Tucker says:

    Dips, You are a lad full of stats. Can name any grand final winners who have not kicked at least one goal in every quarter? I suspect the Hawks were doomed by history at half time. Tommy

  7. Skip of Skipton says:

    Craig,

    North in the ’77 drawn grand final were goal-less in both the second and third quarters. Cue some Ronald Dale steam at 3/4 time.

    Carlton didn’t open their account until the 20 minute mark of the second term in ’79. They ended up piling on five goals quicksmart to lead at half-time!

    Brisbane in ’02 didn’t goal in the first term.

    Sydney in ’05 didn’t goal in the third term.

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