The Hawks Reviewed, Analysed, Grilled and Put on the Rack

Late last year Hawthorn looked like it was ripping itself a new one. For two years the Hawks had struggled to even seem like the team that won (not stole) the 2008 Premiership. At times they played like a premiership team. Interestingly, every time they played the Cats they brought their Vegas game. But by and large they were heading up the creek, paddleless.

They limped out of the 2010 finals race, smacked by cocky Dockers, with the question of captaincy and capability swinging Damocleanly across the club. Then things got weird. The Hawks delisted 11 players, some only listed 12 months previous. From a fan’s perspective, way outside the inner sanctum, this smelled like desperation. Do you really want to lose Carl Peterson? You’ve got to be joking. Rhan Hooper? When he was on fire he ignited 100 game players for the Hawks. Wade Skipper? What? He aint the sharpest tool in the shed but like a bullock, he’ll plod along, almost carrying his weight. Simon Taylor? But then we’ll only have one ruck! I even thought the Garry Moss decision was premature. And so the Hawks headed into Trade season, with a squad resembling a Meccano set. There were a lot of pieces that could be used to build a winning unit but it still seemed incomplete.

Who would have thought the Hawks jigsaw/Meccano set/ Sims family would look like plausibly Premiership material today considering. Or, as Clarkson put it so efficiently in HawkTalk, Issue 1, 2011, “There were some aggressive but necessary changes made to our football program in the off-season, to better prepare for the upcoming period of time … altered to accelerate the opportunity for our players to perform at the highest level”.

Hawthorn head into season 2011 looking, well, pretty good. They have had their best pre-season in a number of years. The main squad is fully fit. Buddy and Roughy have had good runs. Burgoyne is ready to take on Craw’s role, this is what we paid for. New recruits Hale and Bruce add unexpected but needed, maturity. Stratton, the surprise of 2010, can weld the backline. The senior list is fit and hungry. From media reports, the captaincy is a non-issue. Mitchell has endorsed Hodge, in typically Hawthorn style. Is Hodge fit? That is the question. Even that concern has a caveat. Hodge does not need to be ready until around round 4. If the team is Sims like forming, there is not the same reliance on Hodge holding it all together, at least not initially. Could the Hawks ask for more?

They still need a strong ruck division. Questions can still be asked of the backline’s speed, imagination and stoicism. Oh, and height. But by and large, across the ground, the Hawks, for the first time since 2008, fully fit and heading into the season with 40+ plus to choose from, should impress. 2010 drafts, such as Isaac Smith, Paul Puopolo and Tom Schneider, along with younger guys like Savage, Shiels, Suckling and Schoenmakers should tongue tie commentators with lisps as much as they trouble oppositions.

As a fan in the outer I’m feeling relaxed and quietly confident. We know our strengths are as good as the competition leaders and our engine room is hot. Hodge, Buddy, Rioli and Mitchell, they’re good names to roll off the tongue, explaining why your side has a chance. And Hawthorn has a cinderella story in the making. Chris Langford’s son, Will has been signed up as a Rookie Draft. Wouldn’t it be…? What if …? Can you imagine …? I know, the season’s about to start and we’re all in Yellow Brick Road moods, but this feeling I have is real. The Hawks take the 2011 premiership and Langford stars in a Norm Smith medal game. We should be so lucky.

About Rick Kane

Up in the mornin', out on the job Work like the devil for my pay But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do But roll around Heaven all day

Comments

  1. Rick Kane says:

    Last night against the Crows the Hawks ran on full steam for the first half. They looked great. Half way through the third quarter I remembered a key shortcoming of last year. The Hawks tend to run outa steam. By mid-way through the last the Crows looked like contenders and the Hawks looked spent. Should we read too much into this? I’m not sure. We’re only one week into a long season. But the thought lingers … can the Hawks maintain the necessary speed and momentum across 120 minutes, week in, week out, against the toughest of oppositions?

  2. John Butler says:

    RK, that’s the $64,000 question. Does the midfield have the legs?

    But you wouldn’t panic yet. Hodge will return. And I reckon the Crows will be pretty handy this year.

  3. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Rick,

    I watched the game closely last night and thought you had the Crows in the second quarter.

    I wonder if it’s time to play Roughead across half back and have Buddy one out up forward? Your half backline got creamed after halftime. Gibson was solid, but another big body with a penetrating kick just might be the elixir. Roughy’s talents are being wasted at the moment. Just a suggestion.

  4. Rick Kane says:

    JB, Adelaide looked great. I’m not sure how much of it was first game in front of packed parochial home town fever, but I certainly was surprised at how cleanly they handled the ball, how direct their kicking was and how muscular the team looked. Have they snuck under the off season radar?

    and PD, excellent observation re Roughy. Our backline needs bulk and pace. Hale looked effective and with game time may be the answer.

    With Buddy, I wonder why we don’t have crumbers around him. He always has three opposition players going up against him and I hardly see the Osborne or Ellis type player ready to pounce.

  5. Richard Jones says:

    #4 — RICK …. please, puh-lease don’t let them get it fixed by the time they play us in Round 5 @ the G.

    Selwood might still be a little tender even with the match still a full month away. And doubtful if Dasher will be able to run into an open goal to nail the sealer with just 19 secs. left on the final quarter clock !!!

    Still, Podsy might be cherry ripe by Rd. 5 and Lingy will have some game time under the belt. Conversely, so might Hodgey.

    But as we Cats fans appreciate only too well, RK. There’s only one club in the AFl Geelong just have to beat.

    And it ain’t Carlton. Not even Collingowwod. You know The One.

  6. Grant Fraser says:

    Re #5 Richard (and jth) – as a Hawker I speak on behalf of all of us (I hope) by saying that the Cats game is always looked forward to with anticipation, anxiety and a hell of a lot of respect.
    I love it when we beat Essedonia and Caaaaa-lton because I remember the 80’s.
    I love it when we beat the Puddies because it will always be after one hell of a battle. See you at the ‘G…

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