While it’s still fresh

..and only slightly scattered in my head. The game got so intense toward the end that I’m finding it hard to recall the last quarter. Just a series of moments with a firm grip on my heart throughout!

The first time since ’08 that I’ve gone to a Cats v Hawks game expecting to lose. No Scarlett, no Hunt, no Wojak, no Varcoe. But there’s Chappy’s Oath and 7 straight wins on the other hand. Dad’s tipped Geelong, Darlow’s confidence swayed him. I get to the ground 10 minutes before the bounce. Dad comes down from Q-deck to give me my new prized possesion; 1 members ticket with my name on it. We get back up to Q-deck of the Great Southern stand and Dad gets a call from Aunty Vicki, heads back down to find her and bring her up. Benno calls, he’s still at the pub but he’ll find me a quarter time. Asks where I’m sitting for the fifth time.

“Etihad, right behind the goals,” I tell him.
“Righto, seeya there!”

The siren sounds and the heavens open on cue, the rain comes down and the ball goes up. I’m by myself for the first quarter but that’s ok, Dad’s left his radio. Johnno gets the first. Nice snap. Roughead answers. Johnno gets another, snaps his set shot from 25 out straight in front. It’s wet. Snap shot’s less likely to slip off the side of your boot. The ABC’s callers get there eventually, with a fair deal of disbelief. The Tomahawk tries a snap to make it 3 straight, then splits Gibson and co to take (what’s becoming) a trademark grab. We give away some ridiculous 50s and I’m getting worried. There’s smoke coming out Chappy’s ears. Franklin does that thing he does where he makes everyone else move in slow motion while he kicks a couple of goals. Bastard.

Quarter time and we’re doing ok. Benno shows up and a large part of the second quarter is spent catching up on news from home, so I don’t notice Mitchel tearing us up in the midfield for a while. Hawkins. Hawkins.. where did this bloke come from? Just showed up to play finals last year and all of a sudden he’s the second coming of Ablett Snr. Now if he could only bloody kick straight.. Pods and Smedts make up deficit that was starting to worry me. Then the Hawks turn it on for a spell. I can see the ground open up in front of them, a certain path to goal from the moment they leave their back 50. Damnit. 9 points down at the half.

We swap sides of the ground to get out of the sun, which promptly departs in favour of rain clouds and a gale blowing round the top of the G. Rioli makes his case for the Brownlow in the third. Kicking goals, running players down and making much out of nothing. 4 goal lead to the Hawks. Dad’s worried again. Somehow the Cats peg them back. Bartel. Selwood. Enright. Brilliant! Scores are somehow leveled! And then there’s Rioli. There’s not many players who I can watch and like while they’re in the middle of a purple patch against the Cats, but my word that bloke can play! They manage 3 more before the last break and leave me shaking my head.. not much chance now.

“Whaddya reckon?” asks Dad.
“Next goal wins?” I suggest.
“Well, it does if Hawthorn kick it,” he says.

Fourth Quarter is intense. The ball bounces between 50s a couple times, tension building, until coming to rest in the best possible hands; James ‘Norm’ Bartel! He slots his kick from 50 like it’s not even raining. Buddy runs into the 50, misses. Roughead misses. Selwood goes down hard after headbutting Whitecross’ shoulder and I’m thinking this is just not gonna be our day. Then. Pods goals. Goals again! GOALS AGAIN AND WE’RE IN FRONT!! Mackie the magic man pulls the ball out of Osborne’s hat in the goal square for a game saver! The ball camps out in the Hawks 50. I’m looking at the clock, c’mon blow the siren. Johnno clears.. the boundary line! No! Ball comes in to Roughead who.. drops it! Gunston gathers, snaps a point. Bartel kicks out but it comes straight back in. I’m yelling at the clock now!

“Blow the damn siren! Blow it now!”

It comes in one last time, spills to Osborne, the crowd roar! I’m on my feet, my hands on my head before I realise the siren is blowing! All of a sudden I’m floating on a cloud of relief and awe. They’ve done it again. Hawthorn looked better all day, played better all day, and still somehow Geelong find a way. They are so tough these blokes! Fair dinkum unbelievable!

 

Zac Holt

Comments

  1. Rick Kane says:

    Hi Zac

    As a Hawks supporter, I disagree with one key point in your essay. The Hawks did not play better all day. Hawks supporters have a quiet mantra when facing off the Cats and that is that you have to beat them for 120 minutes and not one second less. We didn’t and as Gillian Welch sings, “that’s the way the corn bread crumbles, that’s the way the whole thing ends”. We will be back!

    Cheers

  2. Brilliant! A really good read. Summed up the atmosphere very well.

  3. Fair dinkum unbelievable…what a game…what emotion…wow!

  4. Zac,
    Terrific write-up. Took a while for that siren to go didn’t it. Just in a nick of time too for us Cats fans. It really was a great game and a credit to both teams. Probably the most physical game I’ve attended since the 2009 Grand Final. You felt it as much as saw it.

    How about the way those rainbows kept appearing and disappearing through the afternoon, matching the ebb and flow of the game. It was a privilege to be there.

  5. Rick, what I meant was when Hawthorn were on, they were ON. When you had the momentum you made it look easy, and when we were pressing forward it felt like we had to slog it out around the forward 50 forever to get a goal. I guess the physical tax goes both ways but I was worried we were wearing ourselves out trying to score whereas your boys seemed to do it with ease.

    Burkie, how was the start? The siren sounded and PERFECTLY on cue the rain kicked in. Surreal.

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