AFL Round 1 – Hawthorn v Brisbane: The AFL season is officially open for business: footy at The Peacock on the Fox(tel)



Plenty Rd, waiting on the 86, 4.18pm timetabled tram and it’s 4.20. I’m starting to get a little anxious. The start of the 2014 AFL season will officially kick off at 4.40 this afternoon when the mighty Hawks meet the Brisbane barely Lions at York Park, Launceston. I’m meeting Damien at The Peacock (which is north of Lonnie by a good 1000 kms or so) to watch the game. He’s already there. Why is it that when you are meeting someone at a pub and you know they’re already there that you suddenly become that little bit thirstier? That’s a conundrum for the ages.

The weather in Melbourne today is almost wintery. I’m wearing my standard ‘going to see the Hawks’ gear. The 2012 Always Hawthorn t-shirt, jeans, a Hawks cap, recently signed by Luke Hodge and a black jacket that seen better days, months and years. While waiting for the tram I fumble around in my jacket pocket and retrieve some papers. One is a print out ticket to last year’s Prelim Final. The other is my GF ticket. I clutch them in my fist as the 86 finally arrives. Yes, I’m one of them types who says he aint superstitious but seems to always be on the lookout for a rabbit foot or a sign from the heavens. In my hand I hold such a charm.

I enter the good old Peacock about a minute before the first bounce. I sip from my first beer as the game gets under way. You can watch footy at the Peacock in a big lounge area where there are two huge tellys mounted on opposite walls or, as we have done, watch the game on a smaller telly in a chamber room that holds about 15 people. This feels like a lounge room.

Foxtel has done the likes of me a great favour. I have no interest in forking out the bickies for Foxtel. I’d much rather be ‘foxed’ into finding a pub when I want to watch a game of footy that aint showing on ‘free to air’. It would seem that I’m not alone as a bunch of disparate Hawks fans and a couple of Lions (I suspect they have muddled their way over from Fitzroy North to this pub that sits atop Rucker’s Hill in Northcote) congregate on this Saturday afternoon to cheer and clap and occasionally even ohh and ahhh!

The first real spontaneous cheer, while reaching for a beer to reinforce the celebratory moment, comes with the Hawks first goal. It’s kicked by our new number 23. It’s his first game. As O’Brien comes to ground with ball in hand (cleanly) some wag points out that at least we now have a number 23 who can mark above his head. And with that boom-boom the season proper gets under way for the Hawks.

The level of game is hardly more than a scratch match. I checked the date, thinking it was still February. At times the Hawks take it up a gear. Occasionally it feels like a master-class training run when the more experienced Hawks actually play out a game plan or two to the letter. Mostly it’s a matter of watching the rust crack and break off from a machine that needs to start pumping. Hodge is crunched by Paparone just before quarter time and picks himself up as if he’s been hit by a foam hammer. The Peacock chamber room crowd are stopped for a beat and then the room cheers. Three cheers, for Hodge, footy and life itself. Yes, footy, 2014 is here.

Brisbane plays hard, even getting to within a goal sometime in the third but the game is never in doubt. Damien and I spend as much time catching up as we do being drawn into the game. He has been to Adelaide for Dean Bailey’s funeral (Ringwood lads) where old friends and footy elite have paused to reflect on life itself.

Like the General that he is, Brissie’s Big Bad Brown leads his team and they battle on (and wins their share of the battles – Rockliff’s a standout) but the Hawks have more than enough grunt and depth in reserve. Skill, flexibility and speed cannot be broken. Quick handpasses, unmanned wings and forwards ready to sprint to space and Gibson, Hodge and Birch fortifying the backline give the Hawks a stubborn edge.

Burgoyne exerts his usual influence (whether squeezing an impossible kick from the boundary to the top of the square or thwarting a goal with not much more than his wits). Roughy started the year as he finished the last, as leading goal scorer. Shiels, a player the Hawks need to step up as a midfield leader, steps up. Best of all was the performance of three Hawks young guns. Breust finished with 5 goals, Smith on a wing is a ball-carrier’s dream and Hill played one of his best games for the club.

Gunston records his first goal in the last. Until then he had more smothered kicks against his name than kicks. A nice pass from Langford (Head like Dad, body, not so much) allowed Gunston to slot one through from a mark, 30m out. A few minutes later Gunston, bowled over in a marking duel at the top of the square, and on his back, gently tapped a gravity bound ball to Roughy roving and another goal to the Mightys. The Hawks have it in the bag.

As the sun sets over York Park, a ground with a splendid view of the Tasmanian rural hinterland as a backdrop, the conversation moved from the game to more pressing matters. Should we move on from beer to tea? Can you order a cuppa at the pub? What will the locals say Damien asked? I said yes, yes and I don’t know. I added if they are going to be bothered by a cup of tea then they are really going to struggle when I go to the bar and ask for my pot of Green tea to be refilled. I touched the ticket stubs in my jacket pocket and savoured a honey infused green tea and a good win.


HAWTHORN 3.3 7.6 13.8 21.13 (139)
BRISBANE LIONS 2.1 3.8 8.13 13.13 (91)

Breust 5, Roughead 5, Shiels 2, Gunston 2, Smith 2, McEvoy, O’Brien, Mitchell, Suckling, Lewis
Brisbane Lions: Brown 4, West 3, Rockliff 3, Mayes 2, Green

Hill, Birchall, Breust, Shiels, Lewis, Roughead, McEvoy
Brisbane Lions: Rockliff, Zorko, Redden, Lester, Green, Brown

Brisbane Lions: TBC

Tim O’Brien replaced by Derick Wanganeen during the fourth quarter.
Brisbane Lions: Michael Close replaced by Lewis Taylor during the third quarter.

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, Hay, McInerney

Official crowd: 12,430 at Aurora Stadium

Our votes: 3 – Hill (H); 2 – Birchall (H); 1 – Breust (H)



  1. Nice work Kaney. I’m just worried that I had to wait until Thursday morning to get the report – I’ve been hanging out for some decent journalism as The Sunday Sun and Age were fairly average in their match reports. I was a bit worried that nobody cared, they certainly didn’t turn up to watch.

    A redheaded teenage centre-half forward who can take a grab. Just need to teach him the strut – I’m having 1982 flashbacks.

    What a great R1 it was. Hawks in Top 4, Sydney/Buddy get smashed, Collingwood are on the bottom, Richmond lose, Carlton lose. The only thing that wasn’t good was my tipping.

    H&A match of the year now tomorrow with Hawks v Windy Pills. Just have to win that.

  2. Nice job Rick. Although in Singapore until June next year, I’m with you on Foxtel. I’d much rather invest a few coins at a pub like the Peacock. I reckon 2014 might be the season Gunston really emerges.

  3. The Peacock is a beaut footy pub – great on a Saturday night when they play both games on two opposite walls and 4 sets of fans get involved.

    Mickey, the Hawks knew what they were doing when they convinced Gunstan he was homesick when with the Crows. He’d only been there about two years.

  4. Why are you people talking about Foxtel purely in the context of footy…?!

    What about about Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Parts Unknown (TLC)?

    What about ‘True Detective’, ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Mad Men’ (Showcase)… and before someone bangs on about streaming, illegal downloading of an artist’s work deprives that them of the residuals connect to the sale of their production.

    What about Lorraine Pascale’s ‘Fast, Fresh and Easy’ (Food)… okay the actual food part is superfluous

    What about ‘The Real Housewives of Melbourne’? (Arena)

  5. Rick Kane says

    Sorry Litza, it begins and ends with d/loading for me. You left out Justified by the way.
    Oh, and it was a throwaway line in the greater story of a solid(ish) start to season 2014 for the Hawks.

    Mr aussie80s, this is what would have made Rd 1 better – the Crows finishing the last quarter on top and the Dogs taming the wild West.

    MR, I hope so. On last week’s efforts Breust may well be the man and Gunston can carry on slotting them through from marks on a 30m radius of goal.

    Cookie, the cacophony of Sat nights at the Peacock is too much for a 50 year old. Hence the chamber room.

  6. Good point, Rick.

    Largely missed the greater story due to an inherent ability to ignore all things Hawthorn.

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