My daughter Molly and I have placed our annual sojourn to Tasmania firmly in the province of family tradition. This would be our fifth such expedition. To add weight to our yearly excursion south, this chilly April afternoon would also be the first time we observed my late father’s birthday since his passing last year. That we would think and talk about Dad as we watched his beloved Hawks take on the Dockers was certain.
Molly reminds me so much of her Grandad when we’re at the footy. Not only does she share his warm and thoughtful disposition, she shares many of his tendencies and mannerisms as she urges on her team to lift their game, marvels at a particular passage of play (cue Cyril Rioli) or applauds another goal (especially Buddy).
“C’mon Hawks,” she yelled at the top of her voice, as if on cue as we watched our team burst through the banner, just like Dad would.
And like Dad, Molly scanned the Record to assess the team, who was on the paddock and who wasn’t.
“Ozzy’s back in,” she said.
“I hope he plays well,” I offered in reply.
We’d miss young Jed Anderson after only a few brief but impressive appearances. Dad would have appreciated his hardness at the ball for such a young bloke. Guerra was also omitted with soreness and the much-anticipated debut of Brian Lake was another week away at best.
As the ball was bounced Molly noted the 1980’s hair style being sported by Ryan Schoenmakers. I suggested it was more early ‘90s (I should know). He reminded me of a tall Paul Hudson. Dad loved the Hudsons. It was Peter Hudson’s flat punts and his uncanny ability to read the play which enticed Dad, a recent migrant from Dublin, to follow the brown and gold in the first place.
The opening minutes saw the ball flow quickly from end-to-end and Hawthorn’s defence was being tested. Josh Gibson appeared to relish the early Fremantle surges, repelling their attacks with poise. Luke Hodge made his presence known early.
Despite Fremantle’s early attacking, the Hawks held up well and a fumbled Fremantle opportunity triggered a lightning response from Hawthorn, Gibson sending it forward and on to an explosive Cyril Rioli who kicked an impressive goal on the run.
Gibson and Hodge marshalled Hawthorn’s defence with authority, aided by a prolific Grant Birchall. David Hale worked tirelessly and with effect across the ground while Hawthorn’s midfielders moved the ball with precision before another goal was kicked courtesy of Rioli, who was putting on a clinic.
Goals to Luke Breust and the evergreen Shaun Burgoyne had the Dockers rattled. Another Hawthorn major, this time to Jarryd Roughead, saw the Hawks take a very handy 30 point lead into quarter-time. But like Dad, unless Hawthorn are at least 30 points up, I’m nervous. Molly was happy so I didn’t let on.
The second quarter started with a more determined Dockers kicking their first goal of the match only seconds in, through Kepler Bradley. True to her Grandad’s form, Molly decided to head out to buy a Freddo Frog in the hope her absence might influence the game in Hawthorn’s favour. It did, with goals to Grant Birchall (who was everywhere) and Rioli extending Hawthorn’s lead.
On the downside, Ryan Schoenmakers went to ground clutching his knee in what looked like a season-ending injury. Shane Savage was subbed on as a result.
The remainder of the quarter saw some impressive passages of play from both sides and to their credit, the Dockers lifted notably, holding Hawthorn to account and keeping it a fairly even quarter.
Until this point Franklin had been relatively quiet in front of goals. After a failed attempt to combine with Paul Puopolo, he decided with the next opportunity, to do what Buddy does best, receiving a quick handball from Rioli out of the centre before booting it on his left from just outside the centre square to bomb a long goal to the admiration of the small but vocal Launceston crowd.
The Dockers replied with a goal to Ryan Crowley which was in turn answered by Roughead, pushing the margin back out to 30 points in Hawthorn’s favour heading into the main break.
The third term started as the second had, with the opening goal to Fremantle. Hawthorn responded immediately through the omnipresent Burgoyne. Buddy started presenting up-forward and was rewarded with another goal, extending Hawthorn’s lead to 36 points. When Jack Gunston kicked a goal soon-afterwards, Hawthorn had its biggest lead of the match, 44 points.
But after that Freo lifted and while the Dockers controlled much of the play, Hawthorn appeared to be playing for the siren. After the Dockers kicked the last two goals of the quarter the margin was reduced to 28 points at three-quarter time. Dad would have been nervous. I asked Molly if she wanted another Freddo Frog.
History repeated with the commencement of the final term, with Fremantle kicking the opening goal. Buddy gave us some much-needed breathing space with a regulation mark and goal to put Hawthorn’s lead back out to 29 points.
For the next five minutes Fremantle rallied and all of a sudden the margin was just 17 points. It felt like even less. Molly hugged me anxiously.
Then Hawthorn responded by booting the last four goals of the day to get us home by 42 points. After Breust, one of those was to Franklin and two were courtesy of Roughead who was the difference up-forward in the closing stages. Both of Hawthorn’s big guns finished the afternoon with four goals a-piece.
After the siren sounded, we walked to the Royal Oak to celebrate the win. There, we raised a glass and a toast to the mighty Hawks and to Dad. We talked about him and about the Hawks a lot that evening. He would have been pleased.
Hawthorn 5.2 10.4 13.6 18.10 (118)
Fremantle 0.2 5.4 8.8 11.10 (76)
Hawthorn: Roughead 4, Franklin 4, Rioli 3, Burgoyne 2, Breust 2, Birchall, Lewis,
Fremantle: Bradley 3, Mayne 2, Mundy, Sutcliffe, Crowley, Mayne, Walters, Neale
Hawthorn: Burgoyne, Birchall, Gibson, Roughead, Hale, Rioli, Franklin, Mitchell
Fremantle: Fyfe, Barlow, Mundy, Mayne, Walters, Bradley
Umpires: Nicholls, Wenn, Foot
Official Crowd: 12,619 at Aurora Stadium
My Votes: Burgoyne (Haw) 3, Birchall (Haw) 2, Gibson (Haw) 1