AFL Qualifying Final – Hawthorn v Geelong: #woohooandaboutbloodytime

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen


Kennett? Curse? Boohoo. You wanna know a real Kennett curse? Try living with Kennett’s shadow cast over your club for, I don’t know, 10 plus years. That’s right; we had to live with his infamous imprimatur for a long, long time. That he opened his gob when he did about the Cats (at just the point when it was hoped he was going gently into the good night) just added to the curse we endured.

We attended a Hawks Family Day at Glenferrie a few years back. The kids were running around, kicking the footy and getting autographs. Standing, literally, in the centre of the ground was a man with a bouffant of hair masquerading as a fringe. He was signing. The kids saw him and started to head over. I put my hand out and said, “No, not him”. I think I even cursed.

I can see the crease form in someone’s brow immediately they hear that I barrack for the mighty Hawks. The reason? Kennett. Every time. That, my friends is a curse. The Cats thing, that was but a squall compared to the tempest that is Kennett’s shadow hanging, damoclean like, over the Hawks.

I may dismiss the Cats edge over the Hawks as a small wind in the scheme of things now but it would be dishonest to say it didn’t hurt. I have spoken of having to face my Cats supporting son Jackson’s assassins’ smile, every time the Cats did the Hawks in. Looking back, I inflicted a fair amount of pain on my good self. By going to the games! With him!

I saw Bartel take a mark deep in the forward pocket deep into time on to snatch victory. I saw Kennedy make a simple blunder (that probably cost him his spot at Hawthorn) that saw victory snatched from the Hawks. I saw victory snatched via a free kick the umpire refused Buddy. I saw the hulk of a man Hawkins snatch victory literally after the siren. I have blood in my eyes. Oh, the trouble I’ve seen.

Not only have I persisted, but like a masochist I turned my pain into a form of communication. On this site. I submitted a piece about songs to do with heartbreak. Bloody hell. Man, I must have been gripped with a fever. Was I frightened by a monster? And all that time I could never quite convince myself that the Cats were not a large, ugly, scary imaginary creature. Turns out they were just a bit better team than the Hawks. That was then. Things have changed. The Hawks have the Cats measure.




The Hawks have so often felt monstered by the Cats, through their power, size, skill-set and dominance. It would seem, however, the tide or the tables or both have turned. Last Friday night the Hawks monstered the Cats. Across the ground. Physically and metaphorically.

The Cats heavy reliance on Hawkins and almost smug sense that he could beat any Hawk defender was well and truly tested. It proved a mistake and fateful. Lake’s game on the Cat’s forward was textbook perfect. You see, Hawkins is a great player because of his brain more than his brawn. And Lake had a plan. Lake fought brawn with brawn but got inside his brain. This unsettled Hawkins. Then Hawkins tried harder to prove his value … with his brawn. And the rest is history. Lake monstered Hawkins.

The metaphorical clash occurred between Hodge and Stevie J following a centre bounce. They fell on each other and wrestled. Not in a Murdoch vs Smith sort of “I’d rather not be doing this” way. No, this was two old bulls, who know their best days are behind them, but are still brilliant enough to strike fear. In this scuffle neither backed down. They were both trying to reinforce their purpose, their identity. At that stage neither had had much impact and both were trying to find their way into the game. So they clashed. By game’s end, Hodge had got his game going and was delivering on that existential promise. Stevie J hobbled from the ground, broken, having gone missing. Hodge had metaphorically monstered Stevie J.

Hill vs the Cats mosquito squad? Who do you reckon won the points? The zippy speed of the Cats four outside runners (in total) did not come close to the work rate and results of Hawker Hill. He exposed the Cats central game plan. And that’s without mentioning his co-conspirators, Smith and Shiels and Langford. Yes, the Hawks monstered the Cats speed game plan.

Hale monstered McIntosh, the Hawks forwards monstered the Cats backline, Clarko monstered Scott and so on. No one monsters Selwood. What a player. As the third quarter ended you could almost feel him screaming internally, such is his intensity to succeed. However, like for like (if I can do this) Mitchell’s game was better. Selwood (you sense) almost believes that he has to win the game for the Cats. Mitchell knows he is a cog. A bloody important cog for sure. Mitchell monstered the game.

When the final siren sounded the first tweet from Hawthorn FC was #missionaccomplished. This referenced Cat’s coach Scott’s silly throwaway (“mission accomplished”) from the presser two weeks previous. In turn, it slyly referenced a reference the Hawks have been burdened with since 2009.

The Hawks and Cats games have given a lot to the competition over the last few years. Their games are consistently enthralling, entertaining affairs, played with sublime skills. The Cats have been the better side for the most part. Friday night’s Qualifying Final confirmed that the Hawks now hold the advantage. #woohooandaboutbloodytime


Our votes: Mitchell (H) 3, Hill (H) 2, Lake (H) 1


  1. Can’t argue with much of that RK.

    I must say I was continually astonished over the past few seasons by the Hawks’ fans depth of despair about the so called “Kennett Curse”. The Cats lost about 15 in a row to Hawthorn in the 80s and 90s. 15 in-a-bloody-row!! The wheel has turned again. And will turn again.

  2. Cats were way off last Friday – we left at halftime…scores level was never going to be good enough for Geelong.

  3. Those 11 straight losses and 3 Geelong premierships taught me something…that there were a lot of Geelong supporters out there that I had known for 20 years but had never known that they even followed football but now claimed to be life-long die-hard Cats fans apparently.

    As much as I have enjoyed the past three weeks I also still feel the curse can rear its head at any time – and I need to respect the Geelong masters of this site. I won’t reflect on that game unless we are fortunate enough to get two more wins this year.

    In the 1980’s Peter McKenna always used to say “Don’t write off the Hawks” and I think this current Geelong side deserves the same respect…..but North are four goals up at half time

  4. Steve Hodder says

    Kennett sold off my primary school, shut down railway stations and was even prepared to be the president of a rival club; for heck’s sake! His narcissistic bent was ruinous. You’d reckon, by now, most would know to “Beware of false prophets, which come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves”. etc etc Yet the media still flock to him like toady lickspittles. Why? Fortunately after last Friday, his “curse” can now well and truly be “consigned to the dustbin of history”.


  5. There’s another “Kennett Curse” still going round: the one that haunts the grounds of Victoria’s sold off schools and utilities.

  6. Paul Campbell says

    Enjoyed your piece Rick.

    There were many reasons for the depth of despair, I think. The ‘trouble I’ve seen’ paragraph sums up some memorable late game mayhem. That was one of the unique features, along with close margins (two after the siren) and what felt like a bit of lawlessness of probability. Credit where it’s due and all, but the coin refused to fall the other way.

    Every team enjoys a run against another. I can recall a bleak period of history when Essendon won 9-straight against us, between 1998 and 2004 (I think Mark Williams snapped the sequence with a late goal, that won us the 2006 match by a point). The difference, then, was a distinct ability gap between the teams. We were flogged in some of the 9. Not here. Hawks-Cats have been, vital, strong contenders over the period. Actually, we were better performed over the 2012 & 13, seasons – another unusual feature for results to be one-sided.

    Continuing on a ‘sweet science’ theme, they always appeared to me like a Champ, once stung and floored by a rising challenger, determined to prove to the world it was a lucky punch. ‘Ali’ once said a champ must have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill. They had the will.

    Everything changes and in the dying minutes of the 2013 preliminary final, Hawthorn had the will. You could see it in that beautiful moment when Burgoyne ran into goal.

  7. Peter Fuller says

    As you observe, the fact that these two great rivals of the last 7 years have been evenly-matched has given an epic quality to their contests.
    I often chuckle when observers say, that a particular team hasn’t beaten a prospective opponent for x years, or haven’t one against this or that out-of-State rival for some years. Quite regularly it is because there is such a gulf in talent between the two that they have barely been in the same competition in the period, metaphorically.
    This reaches a particular height of absurdity when EPL previews note that a particular team (say one recently-promoted) hasn’t won at Old Trafford since the 1960s, ignoring the fact that they have scarcely lost there either, because they have rarely been in the same level of competition.

  8. Great piece Rick and … congratulations. My preference is to name what you call the ‘Kennett Curse’ the ‘Chapman pledge.’ It was the dimunitive # 35 that announced “We’ve said to ourselves that we don’t, if we can, ever let Hawthorn beat us again …” Chappy’s time at Geelong finished when he was ruled ineligible for the 2013 preliminary final through suspension; which was the first time Hawthorn defeated Geelong since the 2008 Grand Final. Between 2009 -2013 Chapman did not play in a Geelong team that lost to Hawthorn. Chappy left Geelong and took his pledge with him.
    Good luck for Saturday. Respect.

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