AFL Grand Final: Winning the games that count

As the Hawks blew chance after chance, we gloated. When the Swans kicked eight straight, we were ecstatic. When the Hawks took control early in the last, we lamented. And with each of the final four goals kicked by the boys in red and white, we jumped to our feet, arms raised, fists clenched.

We reveled in the post match presentations and celebrations; we ate and drank and were merry; we waited for the replay, and we cheered all over again.

Cats supporters, each and every one of us, could not have been happier. Whilst Collingwood is acknowledged as the club everyone “loves to hate”, Hawthorn is the team we just hate. They are the arch enemy. And the arch enemy had just been vanquished in the most devastating of ways.

Why the hate for the Hawks? Many people would assume it’s due to recent history on the footy field. Whilst I can’t speak for my mates, I know that’s not the case with me.

I didn’t play much footy growing up or as a young man, but when I did it was for the Drysdale Hawks. Whilst I have always been a Cats supporter, the brown and gold sat very comfortably on me and given we won more games than we lost, I sang “We’re a happy team” more times than I care to remember. Having played in a few grand finals with ‘Drysy’, my affinity with the club and the colours is strong.

Whilst the Hawks kept the Cats out of the finals in 1987, pipped them in the 1988 pre-season competition, fell across the line in the 1989 Grand Final, and beat them in finals in 1991 and 2000, I felt no animosity towards them. They were a club to be admired.

After the 2008 grand final, I was gutted. I still am; so too many Geelong supporters.

Cameroon Mooney asked the now retired Matthew Scarlett in an interview just last week whether he had gotten over 2008 yet? Scarlett replied that he still thought about that grand final every day and the thought still made him sick.

But even given the 2008 loss, I did not hate Hawthorn. To me, the loss was Geelong all over; they had an innate ability to snatch defeat out of the hands of victory.

My dislike and eventual hatred of Hawthorn started after that game, a reaction to the taunts of its supporters (even if only a minority) who mirrored their loud-mouthed Club President.

They were conceited, derisive and condescending. Whether it was on talk back radio, on internet forums and blogs, in the office, or at games between the two clubs, the arrogance was infuriating.

Geelong has not been beaten by the Hawks since but the longer the Cats winning streak became, the more the Hawks fans gloated!

“Who cares? We always beat you in the games that count.”

Even after the Cats beat the Hawks in the first week of the finals in 2011, the response was the same. What an idiotic response! Every final counts! When the Magpies beat the Hawks to get through to the grand final, Hawks supporters bleated about how lucky the Cats were to not be playing Hawthorn.

Last Friday, I heard Hawks supporters say that when the Hawks go back-to-back this year and next, they will have won 3 flags in 5 years and be at least the equal of the Cats. Do they remember 2009 and 2010?

On Saturday, there was one particular scene that was pure gold: a TV camera showed Kennett lowering his footy record down and putting his pen back in his jacket pocket after Buddy shanked a set shot, kicking it out of bounds on the full instead.

Ain’t karma a bitch?


  1. Thanks peteed. As I told all my friends when asked who I was supporting for the GF; there is only one answer, swans! My enemy’s enemy is my friend. May chappie’s commitment live on..

  2. Interesting article! I am a long time passionate Hawthorn member and you would be right that I hate Geelong. However, its a rivalry hatred as I respect the club and what the players have done in recent seasons! As for your reasoning, I copped endless insults on Saturday after the loss and most were from Geelong supporters so the door swings both ways! I don’t hate Geelong any more now because a few supporters are flogs … It’s part of football, get over it! Don’t generalise a team because of a few!

  3. I find this article quite upsetting as I thought this site was reserved for ‘good’ writing and intelligent analysis of footy. I think this article belongs on bigfooty

  4. I agree Saintly.

    Very ordinary article. As a Pie fan, I have copped plenty over the journey but just don’t get this level of feeling.

    Bigfooty stuff alright.

  5. Sounds like you boys have spent a bit of time on Bigfooty to know the difference.

    Me, I wouldn’t have known. Thanks for the tip.

  6. No – you’d be wrong there Pete. Never been on it myself.

    Obviously the sticks & stones bit got missed after 2008……

  7. Skip of Skipton says

    I want Hawthorn to have to overcome Geelong before they win another flag. I was looking forward to them duelling in a Prelim this year. So were the Geelong players I suspect, as they forgot to switch on for the Freo game.

  8. You are right I think Skip, no disrespect to Freo. It was a glimpse of Geelong pre-2007. People have been predicting “end or era” stuff with Geelong and I think it will happen but I hope its physical only, and not mental. I’d hate for the Cats to go back to being the flaky mob they were once.

  9. Shesaid_aus says

    My only surprise… come it took you so long Pete! I was twelve when we lost the night grand final to hawthorn and my hatred started. Added to this were the Hawks fans incessant booing of Neville Bruns for the remainder of his football career. The relentless smugness from letting Gary Ablett Snr go,while filling up their trophy cabinet.

    My hatred is such that I often wonder if my husband had of been a hawks rather than dees fan whether we would of made it to a first date.

    My brother and I were texting each other on Saturday, he said that if the Swans got up he’d buy the DVD. Yes there was lots to love about the swans, but not as much as their was to dislike about the Hawks.

    Our record of past 5 years intact. That’s what we’re talking about.

  10. I understand the Geelong hate of Hawthorn. Yep, we caused misery in the 80s. We’re the epitome of the evil empire, the Darth Vaders of the AFL. And yes, a lot of our supporters were arrogant post 2008 (our president being one of the worst). However in their defense, our premiership was and remains to be tagged as a Bradbury premiership by some. For whatever reason the same tag has not been applied to the Cats 2009 win or the Swans 2012 victory where neither side were top of the ladder and the opposition were dreadful in front of goal in the Grand Final. Personally I reckon in all three cases – the best team on the day won. Which is always the case and is the beauty (or horror for some) of the Grand Final. You either win it or you don’t. I’m not saying it justifies the attitude – just saying I understand where it comes from.

    Now as for the Cats fans rejoicing in the Hawks loss, I’d suggest a reading of Moby Dick is in order. We’ve become your white whale where our demise is more important than your victory. I know if the roles were reversed (it was the Hawks bundled out in the elimination final against Freo at the G and the Cats narrowly going down in the Grand Final), I’d be much more worried about the Hawks future, than celebrating a Cats’ loss.

  11. HAWHAWHAW!!! Wow, what a difference a bit over two years makes. :D

    From a Hawks supporter who thinks the Cats are funny!

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