I just knew it

Hawthorn vs Geelong Round 19 2012.

I don’t get along to see the Hawks as often as I should, but a Hawks fan these days should never miss a Hawks Geelong game, and as a result, I think 6 of the last 10 games I’ve been to have been a Hawks loss to Geelong (stretching back to Round 17 2008).  Growing up in a split supporting family, (the boys go for Dad’s Hawks – the girls go for Mums cats) I felt like Round 17 2008 was the first time in my 25 years that I’d actually seen the Cats beat the Hawks.

But fast forward to today and I’m not sure that we will ever beat them again.  Regardless, after work it was off to the MCG again, this time in the top tier behind the goals in the Ponsford stand, watching modern footy’s “structures” unfold.  We got there early, and there was a good omen, round 6 1989 was being played on the scoreboard, the Hawks came from a 50 point deficit to beat Geelong  171 to 163, as Gavan Excel (who??) kicked 9 for the Cats.  That 1989 season dvd is on regular rotation at home, always watched after a loss to the cats or when modern footy gets too frustrating (both regular occurrences).  Getting to the ground early I went for a beer and got chatting to a wide-eyed bloke down from the Gold Coast, attending his first match at the G, making me once again realise how lucky we are to be able to duck down to the greatest stadium in the world whenever we feel like it.  Which brings me to the crowd, a massive game for both teams, only 65k on a nice Friday night – either the hawks fans are sick of losing this fixture, or the cats fans lacked belief – maybe a bit of both.

As the game started, straight away there was worrying signs – the Cats were far better coached.  They zoned up the left footers wing, and at the stoppages they ran past the ball and cut off hawthorns backward handball to the awaiting left footers.  Geelong’s forward structure was superb, as Podsiadly took Gibson away from the ball and going 3rd man up and the ever improving but fragile Schoenmakers was once again found out.  Hawkins was also frustratingly kicking straight (against anyone else he would have had 3.4) and as Chappy kicked his 3rd to put the hawks 9 goals down, I leant across to my brother and said the immortal words: “Ah well, look on the bright side, at least they can’t come from behind and break our hearts again”.

The Hawks of course lifted and the contest became a classic, the last quarter was an absolute blur.  When the Hawks got within 3 goals I felt certain that we would get in front and then the cats would come back.  I’d seen these games enough times and sure enough with seconds left, when Puopolo opted to kick out of the air and the ball fell to Mackie in the back pocket I looked away.  I just knew they would run it up the far end to Hawkins.  Such was the blur of the final moments I didn’t even hear the siren, but knew Hawkins would kick that goal (against anyone else he would have missed).

I sat there in disbelief for a moment but then felt exactly the same way I did after the siren Round 17, 2008 – belief.  If it wasn’t for that uncharacteristic Hodge turnover late against the cats that night I knew we would have won and I knew if we got another chance we wouldn’t let it slip.  I know this time we have belief again – next time the Cats won’t get a 9 goal head start again, Gilham will come in (been BOG for box hill last 3 weeks) and play on Pods – letting Gibson vitally go 3rd man up.  The Hawks will kick through the middle, rather than down the wing to the waiting arms of Taylor and Scarlett on the flank.  Bailey will play and allow Hale, Gunston, Buddy and Rough to at least get the ball to ground, rather than have the Cats rebound straight away.

 

However not every Hawks fan felt the way I did and the night ended on a surprisingly jovial fashion.  In the private carpark after the game, the older Hawks fan in the car in front was in no mood to having his parking permit checked and decided to jump out of his car and have a push and shove with the security guards.  The classic moment though was when his teenage daughter jumped out and tried to get involved, leaving her skinny boyfriend awkwardly waiting by the car, wanting absolutely no part of the fracas that his girlfriend’s dad had started.

Post script:

I tagged along with some mates to Saints vs Dees on Saturday, and as a Hawks or Cats fan, we are absolutely spoiled with the quality of footy that we get to see week in week out.  What I saw on Saturday was a different game all together, with no redeeming qualities.  You know that when you are hoping that Beau Wilkes would kick 7 to give us something to remember, you are struggling.

Comments

  1. I sincerely and respectfully hope you are completely wrong and that the curse continues – at least until Geelong beats the Hawks in a grand final. Maybe even this year…

    However, your last paragraph resonates. We really are lucky, aren’t we? This is a match-up I am always happy to invite neutrals to, in the firm belief that whatever happens, Cats-Hawks will be a match worth watching.

  2. Luke Ridgwell says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Very well said re neutrals – i’ve had plenty of friends and family tag along to these games over the last few years. People don’t need to be asked twice to attend those games.

  3. Rick Kane says:

    Hi Luke

    As a fellow Hawker, it was an absolute ripper of a game except for the last 30 seconds … and the first quarter. As we well know, to beat the Cats you have to play 120 minutes of outstanding football. However, I do believe the so called curse was smashed to pieces at some point in the second quarter. The Cats continued to attack as they did in the first, but were met with a very different response. Twice in the second our backline literally forced the ball forwards. Then their confidence grew. And then the game was on. Unfortunately, we gave the Cats too big a head start but we didn’t back down. Go Hawks!

    Cheers

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