Round 4 – Hawthorn v Geelong: Hard Times Come
This essay began a week ago. At that point it was entitled, “Riding the bumps with a grimace, I mean a grin”. It included my best attempt at wrecking ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’, Kris Kristofferson lament to be being lost and lonely while the world carries on. It went like this:
Well I stared at the telly Sunday evening with no way to know my Hawks that didn’t hurt
And the six pack I’d consumed wasn’t enough so I started another for dessert
Then I fumbled around on Facebook and Twitter for not even one positive alert
I thought I’ve got nothing to lose so I tuned into Willesee play God’s detective on Sunday
I’d stewed my mind for two full hours with reality and hallucinations I’d been seeing
Was that the Brown and Gold out there or was it a future that was a fleeing
Then I looked out my window and caught the sight of kick to kick in the street ‘nd
It took me back to something I’d lost somewhere, somehow along the way
On a Sunday evening of Round Three
I’m wishing the Lord our sins atone
Cause there’s something ‘bout this Sunday
That makes this Hawker feel alone
And there’s nothing short of dying
That’s half as lonesome as the sound
Of other AFL team fans laughing
And this Sunday evening that’s just gone down
Anyway, apparently a week is a long time in football.
When interviewed through the week in response to the Hawks extremely poor and uncharacteristic start to the 2017 season Clarko said that “hard times come and hard times go”, quoting lines from Springsteen’s ‘Wrecking Ball’.
Then the Hawks got done like a dinner by the archest of their arch rivals. By their White Whale, their Moriarty, their Newman.
In the last quarter, as the sun descended, creating a brilliant crimson fused with saffron sky the Cats with blood in their eye and carnage their one desire, ripped the barely beating heart out of my stunned, sluggish, enervated Hawks. Eleven goals straight. It hailed goals. The Cats rammed their V8 into our hapless, helpless, hopeless Cortina in a demolition derby that made “the horror, the horror” of Colonel Kurtz seem like a playground squabble. It felt like the Cats were delivering the final verdict on the Hawks for the rest of the footy fraternity. Or as one wag posted on my Facebook page, “You do know that a sizeable portion of Australia is schadenfreuding so hard right now?” This was followed by another: “There is a god”.
So, what to make of season 2017 for the Hawks? Can it get worse? Where does the fault lie? How deep does our trust for Clarko’s way go? What exactly did we lose with Mitch and Lewis and Hill? One thing we definitely are lacking is a toughness, a commitment to put your body on the line to get the ball. Another thing is football intelligence/intellect. And leg speed. The Cats had outside runners everywhere. The Hawks looked like they left it to the midfielders to push on through. And Hodge. Man did he play his frickin heart out. Took hit after hit and just kept on. If the team can’t take something from his efforts on Monday then this very long year we are set to endure will hardly be worth it.
This is what Clarko said following the game:
“If me or we as a club are guilty of having confidence in our group then that’s a good guilt that I sit with, because it is the only way forward for us: to look at our group and understand they have significant capabilities and we’ll find a way…” Clarkson said.
“This is the most significant down we’ve had for a long time as a footy club. Whether it’s our supporters, our members, coaches, admin people, players – we’ve all got to band together and fight our way through what’s a pretty tough time for our club.”
I’m cool with that. If you’ve followed the Hawks a long time you know that the last ten years, as great as it has been followed 18 years in the lower reaches of the Ladder, either fighting with the Tigers for ninth spot or worse.
Losing stings. Losing by 80 points hurts. Losing to the Cats by such a margin is a sucker punch. There was a bewildered silence on the South Morang train last night. Everyone was trying to make sense of things. It was too hard to do.
Hard times come indeed. The line pre-dates Springsteen by 150 years. It stems from a Stephen Foster song called ‘Hard Times Come Again No More’. You would know the song even if you think you don’t. It has been covered so often (including recently by Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen on their album, ‘Death’s Dateless Night’) and used in films and TV shows.
Foster’s song is a lament for the poor and struggling. The song attempts to reach out to those better off to consider and care for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. I don’t think I’ll bother offering that song’s theme to non-Hawks fans in our hour of need.
A better idea would be to listen to Springsteen’s ‘Wrecking Ball’, with the lines, “hard times come and hard times go”. The song was originally written to commemorate the demolition of the Giants stadium but holds a metaphor that goes well beyond that singular event. People who have seen Springsteen live know how well this song plays at his concerts.
The lines, “hard times come and hard times go” form a refrain that Springsteen and crowd repeat continuously until it pulsates like a heart growing stronger and stronger and a body is reformed from the communal chant that culminates with the defiant call to arms, “bring on your wrecking ball”. If it takes the Hawks one year or three or even twenty so be it. We are fallen now. On our knees. But we will reform and we will get stronger and we will be back.