Round 1 – Hawks, Magpies, Grass and Mud

 

by Paul Campbell

Mint Bar – two Vodkas in -I tell Cat woman I must leave.

“It’s Five forty five”, Cat woman observes.

“I know”, I respond, “I want to get to the ‘G and look at the grass a while”.

It’s been 6 months and 7 days since Collingwood shattered a dream, in a Preliminary Final. Not a day has passed I haven’t thought about it. 2012 could not come soon enough.

I leave Cat woman, with the promise of meeting again in Round 2. Before sunset, I was enjoying the magnificent MCG surface with some of Carlton’s finest mid-strength.

At 7:50, 2012 begins. The first few minutes are messy footy. I feel the ‘mess’, must be credited to Collingwood’s pressure. I recall my (Hawk) hairdresser once opined (mid-cut), “Those ‘Pies swarm like flies”. I agree. Over a couple of years I have mostly avoided an uncomfortable truth – they are a very good footy team.  I was later than most to appreciate it. Watching the 2010 Preliminary Final (two weeks before their flag) was my ‘bucket-of-cold-water-over-head’ moment. I was certainly in the ABC camp (“Anyone But Collingwood”) in last year’s Grand Final. Tonight, despite missing key players, I know they won’t concede and must be trodden into that magnificent grass.

The intensity is outstanding. Dawes misses, setting a trend of inaccuracy for them. O’Brien versus Cyril is tantalizing. I feel Harry might be worried by Cyril’s speed – Who wouldn’t be? On cue, Cyril runs him down.

Clarke provides for Cloke. The colossus outpoints Schoenmakers… then misses.

Birchall is playing well. I wondered, if Lou Richards were still calling, if he might call him ‘the ever reliable’ (or was that Peter Landy?). As the quarter progresses, the Hawks are lucky to lead. I feel it can’t last – it doesn’t. After their misses, Shaw kicks the hardest one – ‘Pies are up at quarter time.

Refreshed by more of Carlton’s finest mid-strength, I watch the ‘see-sawing’ second quarter. Rioli’s high mark over Shaw, flicks a switch for the Hawks and Whitecross goals.

Collingwood respond through (a barely recognisable) Thomas; running, handballing and setting up Swan. This is followed by Cloke overwhelming Schoey (again) – ‘Pies by 11. Hawthorn’s inspiration continues to be Cyril, who races into goal with Harry chasing forlornly.

Swan kicks to a Jolly and Boumann contest. Jolly marks between his legs…. well, sort of. Hawk fans around me expressed some doubt.

Fluctuations continue, Rioli bursts and goals, answered by an efficient Fasolo snap. But best of all was Buddy’s. At a boundary-throw-in, Mitchell finds Franklinand in full flight he hooks and goals. Half time – Hawks by 15.

At the break, I wander down to the AFL pass out area to meet a friend (and ‘Pies supporter), “Pretty Tough Mudder” (PTM) the nickname’s a little inspired by Prince’s – ‘U got the look’  (“You walked in, I woke up, I never seen a pretty girl, look so tough, baby…”), it’s resonant in my head as she approaches. Besides, PTM is going to compete in the “Tough Mudder” tomorrow morning, at Phillip Island.

PTM has recently split from her boyfriend, who did not answer correctly when asked, ‘Where is this relationship going?’ I briefly consider scooping her into my arms, like Pendlebury at a stoppage, but (1) I’m no Pendlebury and (2) what would indifferent-to-football-woman at home, say?

PTM and I watch the third quarter together. Pendlebury scoops and goals before the Hawks wrest momentum; Lewis from the boundary, Burgoyne with a bomb, Whitecross with skill. The Hawks are 25 points up – regardless, I’m expecting the next rise and fall of the see-saw.

Cloke kicks one off-the-ground, Paine conquers Birchall and Guerra and Pendlebury wins a free in the goal-square. Buddy interposes, before Matt Suckling shows us the worst kick of his life, gifting Blair a goal. At three-quarter-time, I farewell PTM with, ‘It’s anyone’s game now’.

Back in my original seat, I watch the dramatic final quarter. Franklin’s goal from the pocket is sublime. Jolly responds and the ‘Pies are attacking. Blair roves a goal and Thomas skids one. They lead – it’s like an awful flashback to the Prelim.

I wonder who can inspire us? I should have known. Cyril is clean with a handball and releases Savage for a goal. When Smith marks and goals, the momentum seems with us. From a kick-in, Reid rivals Suckling’s ‘worst kick’, tumbling the ball over the line. New Hawk, Jack Gunston, takes the resulting free. Like Lewis in the third, he threads a goal of quality. It’s not safe, but it’s hard for them now.

A point to the ‘Pies heralds the knock-out moment (what we failed to do six months ago). The kick-in goes to Schoey, who sends a long ball to Gunston, Jack finds Buddy, running into an open goal – End-to end – Hawk fans are jubilant.

I know what Round it is. It’s not a final, but it’s a good start. Enjoy the moment. Walking from the ground, I send PTM a consoling text, when I wake in the morning, I will think of her…in the mud.

About Paul Campbell

Lawyer, left footer. Loves the Hawks and follows a few U.S sports.

Comments

  1. PC – very nice. The Hawks look the goods. Its a long season but Buddy won’t shrink across the months.

  2. Rick Kane says:

    Hi PC

    As a fellow Hawker and footy fan, thank you for your essay. It was a great game. I was in Sydney in the afternoon fretting that the usual Sydney Airport Delay syndrome would find me in mid air as the first (true) bounce of 2012 got underway. I got back to Melbourne (late) but with just enough time to be there for what was a very impressive game.

    Yes, it’s only Round 1 and there’s a lot more footy to be played before any of us get too excited. However, the Hawks gave their fans a lot to consider.

    I was disappointed reading reviews of the game on Saturday that they focussed on the question of missing Pies players. The Pies were without Maxwell, Tarrant, Didak, Beams, Wellingham, Macaffer, Krakouer , Brown and Johnson. They are all top line or middle tier players. But, as you know, the Hawks were without Hodge, Roughead, Gilham, Murphy, Young, Puopolo, Shiels, Eiilis and Bailey (we had a first timer ruck against the mighty Jolly). All top line or middle tier players. Hopefully all of them are fully fit and in good form next time we meet.

    I did question the Pies drive. If I was a Pies supporter I would wonder whether they’re getting the most from their middle tier players. In the 2010 Prelim against the Cats, if Ablett hadn’t played the as good a game as he did, the Pies would have beaten the Cats by a lot more. On Friday night Pendles held the Pies together. Without Pendles, the Pies are going to be in a lot of strife unless you get more from middle tier players such as Goldsack, Clarke, Reid, Sinclair, Dawes, Toovey, O’Brien, and top line players, Sidebottom and Thomas. Their newbies didn’t let them down, the players just mentioned did.

    Looking forward to our next clash! Go Hawks.

  3. Rick – you make an excellent point about the Hawks “outs”. Put all those blokes in the team and they rae bigger certainties for the flag this year than ever.

    As for the Magpie “outs” (excluding Krakouer and Mcaffer who will miss the year) I would only rate Tarrant and Wellingham anyway. Maxwell and Didak are shot, Brown is an unknown quantity after missing so much footy, and Johnson has seen his best. Beams is “good ordinary” at best.

    PS – the Cats will win on Monday!

  4. Paul Campbell says:

    Hi Dips, Rick,

    Monday looks epic doesn’t it? When these two get reacquainted, there’s no better. Opportunity’s knocking for the Hawks, I think – must go the distance to win though.

  5. Rick Kane says:

    Dips

    The Hawks are no certainty for the flag. But they certainly beat the Pies. (I agree with your assessment of the missing Pies ?)

    The Cats are the high water mark of the last 5 years, no doubt. The Hawks have come so close, but haven’t been able to beat ’em in the last 8 encounters. Monday is a big game for both sides. The Hawks must win, they must. A Cat’s loss wouldn’t be devastating for you but it would be the Cats leanest start to a season in recent years.

    PC,

    Yes, it should be epic and yes, we must go the distance, and then some. As I quoted in my Bio in last year’s Almanac (from Shakespeare’s Henry V, no less): “In cases of defence ‘tis best to weigh/The enemy more mighty than he seems.”

Leave a Comment

*