Looking Back and Looking Forward


So it’s the Pies and the Hawks on Friday night.  It’s 34 years since these sides squared off in a final,the second semi in 1977.  That was a fantastic game, in which the Pies withheld a late Hawks charge to win by two points.  The win came at a huge cost however, as Michael Tuck’s head came into contact with Phil Carman’s fist in the first quarter, and the flamboyant one received what turned out to be arguably the biggest penalty in recent history, his two week suspension being served in successive Grand Finals.

It is incredible that it is 34 years since that last finals clash between the teams because we have played in 42 finals in that period, and while I can’t be bothered working out how many finals the Hawks have played in that time, they have won 7 premierships and been runners-up three times, so it would be a considerably larger number than 42. Remarkably the teams’ paths have not crossed in all of those games.

The Hawks have beaten us during the season in both of our most recent premiership years.  In 1990 they beat us twice during the season, including by a whopping 83 points in Round 20.  While both of these losses came the week after very taxing clashes with the Bombers, the Hawks made no secret that they thought they had our measure. This belief wasn’t tested during Septmber (or October) as Melbourne knocked them out in the first week of the finals, potentially doing us a favour.  As the Hawks won three flags in the surrounding years of 1988, 1989 and 1991, we probably picked a good year to peak.

In 2010 we ended a losing streak against the Hawks with a resounding 64 point win in Round 4. When the Hawks pipped us by 3 points in Round 22, after Beams missed a late set shot to win the game, the Hawks again made it known that they thought they could beat us in the big time.  When the seventh-placed Hawks were eliminated in the first week of the finals, Clarkson commented that there were several sides that would be happy to see them eliminated.  The claim seemed fanciful in light of the Hawks’ modest 12 1/2 wins for the season, and that Round 22 had been a dead rubber for us (and that we had played John McCarthy and big Josh in the game, as a couple of sore bodies were rested).

The sides’ only clash in 2011 was in Round 15 and resulted in a convincing win for the Pies.  This clash was not much of a form guide for next week, as the Hawks had lots of injured blokes out who have subsequently returned to the team, notably Rioli, Sewell and Stratton.  The Hawks have been solid in the finals.  While the Cats ran over them in the qualifying final, they were very competitive for three and a bit quarters.  The Hawks did enough against a Swans team that was pathetic in the first half, albeit characteristically brave in the second half.  The Swans fell into the trap of bombing the ball into a forward line in which their forwards were consistently outnumbered, similar to us in the drawn Grand Final last year.  Against a side with a suspect backline, you still have to get it to the right spots/contests (that is where the numbers are at worst even) and the Swans scored quite freely in the second half when they changed their tactics and were able to do this.  The Hawks’ midfield was excellent, and big Bailey looked a better ruckman than I had previously thought.

Our form was OK against the Eagles.  Whilst we were in severe danger of being run over in the last quarter, we were good enough to steady and win.  The pressure in that game was phenomenonal, a really good finals hit-out for our blokes.  Certainly we have many blokes who will have benefitted from a week off.  It seems that the Hawks  no longer have the stranglehold on us that they had prior to 2010, when Buddy and to a lesser extent Roughy and Williams lined up to kick bags against us.  Taz has a good record on his mate Buddy, but I again think that the round 15 encounter is of little predictive value as Clarkson’s curious tactics in that game allowed us to have two or three opponents on Buddy most of the game. I can’t see that happening again, even though the Hawks like to play a spare down back.

The key players for us are the big blokes Jolly, Cloke and Dawes, and Taz.  If Jolly breaks even in the ruck you’d favour our midfield will be good enough to provide plenty of supply for the forwards.  Cloke has been down for a couple of weeks and Dawes rusty after returning from a lengthy absence.  If one or both fires, the Pies should be good enough.  I also think that Sidebottom will be a factor, possibly needing the break more than most, and being a proven big game performer.  Those saying that he might miss out on selection are very wide of the mark.  For the Hawks Buddy is clearly the key, even if their talented midfield gets on top.  Kicking a winning score will be harder against the Pies than it was against the Swans, and the finals to date have highlighted the value of big forwards in September.

Bring it on, and Floreat Pica !!!


  1. G’day Steve,

    I reckon Sidebottom will play as well.

    Your opening line reminds me of this crazy fact. It’s my understanding that Richmond and Hawthorn have never played in a final.

  2. It’s my understanding that Richmond and Hawthorn have never played each other in a final.

  3. Steve

    Hawthorn and Collingwood’s last finals meeting was actually the 1978 Qualifying Final which Hawthorn won fairly comfortably.

    And yes, Richmond and Hawthorn have never met in a final before. I’m tipping a semi final clash in 2013!

  4. You’re right of course Stainless, that match was obviously not that memorable for me, as we lost by 56 points.

    33 years (and 39 finals for the Pies) is still a long time !!

  5. It is a remarkable stat that they haven’t met for so long. I think they’ve played about 37 finals series for 10 premierships between them in the intervening years.

  6. ’78 QF was the first final I went to, as a 5 year old. I have been thinking about it this week, can’t remember much other than I sat with my mum high up in the Southern stand towards the Jolimont end. Dad and my older brothers and sisters were all ‘season ticket holders’ and sat else where, we were given tickets by someone.

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