Floreat Pica: No Hawkers please

By Andrea McNamara

My match preparation was a visit to Victoria Park, to see if Didak showed up for his latest attempt to return to the senior team. He did, and looked OK, but the real story was that I left when the score was 26 to 106 and there was still a quarter to go. No prizes for guessing which team was winning – it was Luke Hodge. As I headed for the G, I was relieved the Hawks’ spiritual leader wasn’t playing in the seniors, and that Buddy was on hammy leave. And that their defence isn’t the greatest. Time for our big boys to shine, I thought, time to cement a top four spot. I didn’t feel especially confident but nor did I sniff a big defeat in the air as I passed through the turnstiles.

There’s no point reliving the sunny afternoon at the G, blow by blow. The Hawks burst out of the blocks and treated us like those cones in training drills in the first quarter and we were lucky to be only 16 points down at quarter time. We made an effort in the second quarter that got us to within a goal early on. The gap was a theoretically manageable 19 points at the halfway mark but that was a lie, like the final margin.

In the middle, Swan was getting a fair bit of it but his clanger rate was well on the way to a personal best. Sure, he got the ball on the boot but either his mates weren’t where they were meant to be, or he was kicking it clear under immense pressure. To be fair, it was probably a bit of both, and anyway, the real problem wasn’t in the middle of the ground, it was at either end. Beamsy, and to a lesser degree,  Sidebottom, were busting a gut. Pendles was fine but wasn’t his damaging self – he played like an underdone midfielder in his second game back from serious injury. Blair wasn’t his usual effective self. On a slightly brighter note, Fasolo continued to develop the less show-offy side of his game. But where on earth was Daisy?

Our defence was shambolic. Heath Shaw must have been regretting his words, quoted large in Saturday’s Herald Sun: ‘I don’t really accept if someone is beaten one on one.’ He would’ve have been beating himself up last night. Maxy had an OK first half and never stopped trying, Harry had a couple of good moments (including a one-handed mark on the stretch) but both of them spent a lot of time making up the 3-metre head starts of their opponents. Questionable decision making was the dominant back-line feature (even without Simple Simon!) and eventually poor old Browny suffered the ignominy of the red vest, replaced by a pacy Irishman half his size. And Tooves? Missing.

I remember thinking that the three things the Hawks don’t have could give us a chance after halftime, if Bucks could somehow get some fire into the big boys’ bellies down the front. The Hawks don’t have much of a ruck – Hale is serviceable but beatable. Their defence concedes goals which gives our talls a big chance. And while they’ve had an impressive run of victories, they haven’t taken a big scalp. But none of that mattered, as it turned out, and our forward talls looked inept due to a mix of poor delivery and poor effort. The Hawks were determined to prove they’re contenders for the flag. After halftime, as the Hawks piled on 9.1 to our pathetic 2.1, we watched the scoreboard for news of the Crows vs Eagles game as a distraction. Crows all the way.

We used to do that to teams: deconstruct them, ambush them, and provide the best entertainment. On Saturday afternoon, in the second half, it was time to party at the G like it was 2010, except it wasn’t us partying. We got to experience what it feels like for the other side, and it’s awful. The ball bounced the Hawks way, the footy gods smiled on them, there was always a string of at least four players on their own and someone to receive a blind handball. We fell over, were a yard short, fumbled and missed. Oh, it was ugly.

We got some cheap goals in junk time so the margin of 47 points flattered us. That was a 100-point defeat in so many ways, or an 8-premiership-points defeat if you think about it in terms of the ladder. With a crap percentage and the traffic jam at the top, we had an opportunity to put some space between us and them and we sat back and watched it slip away.

On the long walk home, I heard Swanny in the post-match presser. He was asked about his career-high 49 possessions and said he’d give them all back for a win. In another interview, Maxy said we were ‘embarrassing’. Bucks called the effort ‘disgraceful’ and pointed his finger at the big guys. So at least we’re not in denial. I thought about Ball, Krakouer, Dids and Johnno and how that would mean no Young, Elliott, Mooney and Seedsman and what a difference that would make but that’s crying over spilt milk. Ball is not coming back. At best, Dids will be like Dids of 2011 – sadly, mostly ineffective – and Krak and Johnno might be marginally more useful than at least two of the new boys but with massive doubts hanging over the durability of their bodies, especially in finals. We’ve seen that you can’t go into finals carrying blokes whose bodies are already stuffed.

The hole that Clarko left in the wall of the coaches’ box will be replastered through the week. The holes in Collingwood’s defence, forward line and – dare I say it – teamwork, will need a Backyard Blitz-style effort for next weekend, but it will be surface work only. I think we’re shot. We’ll play finals, sure, but for the rest of the season I suspect I’ll be barracking for whoever can smash the Hawks. I hate them, from their angry, arrogant little coach and their pooh-and-wee coloured jumpers down. I’d like the Cats to beat them in a couple of weeks, preferably by a heartbreakingly narrow margin, just to restore a bit of the old order. Because if they don’t beat them, the Hawks will probably win the flag.

The Votes

3. Beams. In the hardest game to shine in, he held his head high and was damaging whenever he got the ball. Last year I didn’t care if Beams left (and I thought he’d be trade bait at the end of this year). Now I love him.

2. Swanny. You have to hand it to him – 49 unattractive possessions is still a helluva lot of ball handling. At least he wasn’t a spectator.

1. Steele. Hard to split Pendles and Steele but I chose the latter because he’s kept up his effort in a year where he could’ve gone the other way.

 

Comments

  1. I haven’t rated the Hawks all year. I still don’t. I do have a deep-seated hatred for them though, that may be colouring my judgement for them after the weekend’s display.

  2. The Hawks down on the NW Coast of Tassie are certainly excited.

    They are like pissants at a picnic. Swarming all over the place and it’s not the sticky buns they are carrying off.

    It’s the cup; already.

  3. Rick Kane says:

    Good report Andrea. It’s a wonder what one can say through gritted teeth. I, likewise, started the day at Victoria Park, to see how Hodge was travelling. He’s looking good. Then the day got even better. By three quarter time at the G I was floating. Beams deserves your 3 votes but I’m not sure I would have handed any more out. As for the Hawks, how can you hate them when they are so magnanimous as to give you a lesson in the fine art of field kicking and for free.

    Cheers

  4. Rick, have you been as happy as you were at 4.30pm Saturday since September 2008? I’m guessing not

  5. Rick Kane says:

    I won’t be truly happy until we get that bloody monkey called The Cats off our back. But for now, I’m feeling James Brown good. That is, until I start my game day ritual of hyperventilating and self doubting come Friday evening.

  6. Rick – the Hawks sounded magnificent (on the radio). Does Buddy get a game?

  7. Rick Kane says:

    Dips, we might give him a goagainst the Suns, probably start him on the bench wearing the green vest. I’ll get back to you on that. I first have to consult with Tackers Tanty Clarko. Who knows what he’ll do with the Bud.

    Cheers

  8. Phantom says:

    fist as tough as tungsten
    tongue sharp as razor wire
    fuse as short as grandpa’s memory
    no one spits a dummy higher

    something sure is troubling him
    fermenting deep inside
    seven straight, let’s make it eight
    no place for him to hide

    come on Cats it’s time to scratch
    the under nine’s star runner
    beat the Hawks and hear his sqawks
    from August 3rd till summer

  9. John Harms says:

    We live in interesting times. You might be onto something re the footy gods and the bounce of the footy. Not so long ago and the Tiges smashed Hawthorn.

    If you try to trace formlines it will do your head in this year. The aberrations (if that’s what they are) occur at the most unlikely times.

  10. Rick Kane says:

    Runner and summer don’t rhyme.

  11. Phantom says:

    Er…………Runner rhymes better than ‘Richard Cranium’.

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