AFL Round 10 – Melbourne v Hawthorn: Hawks untroubled by the bald and the dutiful

The big news about today’s game was actually referring to an expected event tomorrow. There is a board meeting scheduled by the Melbourne footy club and apparently the first item on the agenda is the future of their coach.

But before all that there was a game to be played but the prelude of 1st v 17th didn’t inspire much anticipation of a contest. The Hawks continue to try a few fringe players like Duryea, Grimley and Cheney while the Dees made an obligatory six changes as they take recycling to a new level.

The first thing  noticed was how empty the footy train was. There were more North and Saints fans for a game that was to start later that day than there were Hawks or Demons. Considering this was a Belgrave train from the outer eastern Hawthorn catchment area indicated a general indifference. Track repairs between Ringwood and Blackburn forced a change to waiting buses and the entire trainload of passengers fitted onto one bus with room to spare – and half of them were not going to the footy.

Arrival at the ground with ten minutes to spare is about the ideal scenario as pre-game entertainment has gone downhill since the scrapping of the Reserves. I have seen fans chase a mascot in a race around the boundary, fans having potshots at goal and tedious sponsor promotions. Axe the marketing department and bring back the Ressies.

Being a Hawks fan at Melbourne home game, I chose a seat in the top deck of the Southern Stand which was being bathed in sunshine on an otherwise cool day. The ground itself was in the shade due to high walls and a lower winter sun so I suppose the best of conditions for spectators and players alike. An unusual sight that greeted me was that there was a section of reserved seats in the public area of the upper deck. Reserved seats for this game up in the nose-bleed section seemed a little unnecessary but some souls had taken this option.

As the game gets underway the Hawks pepper the goals and could have wrapped up the contest by quarter time but their tally of 3.9 only created a 24-point buffer. The Demons were certainly trying but would lose possession too easily. Jack Watts is an enigma as he can read the play and get the ball but was better at finding a target with a hurried snap over his head than when he actually timed his disposal. The Hawks continue to have trouble with bald players as, after seeing Ablett dominate last week, it was Nathan Jones who was dominating in the centre. Everywhere else Hawthorn looked comfortable as Melbourne were their own worst enemies.

The Demons score their first goal from a bouncing ball that Howe claimed off his shin about ten minutes into the second term which brought cheers, both genuine and ironic, which startled a flock of pigeons who had settled on Hawthorn’s half forward line. There are about 5000 Demons fans at the game and I have enormous respect for these diehards who turn out to see their side. They are a pragmatic lot who appear resigned to losing and celebrate small individual highlights. They are waiting for a Jeremy Howe screamer that never eventuated but would also bask in the glory of each individual goal scored.

They got to bask in the whole third quarter as Melbourne kicked 4 goals to 2 but, with the game over long before that, the highlight of the quarter was observing one person deciding to amalgamate the entire seagull population into the forward pocket of the city end with some generously shared chips.

Hawthorn accelerated away in the last quarter as they stretched the lead to beyond 100 before a consolation goal to Melbourne left a 95 point margin separating the sides. The Demon’s effort couldn’t be questioned but they just lacked a bit of polish.

There were quite a few Hawthorn highlights including Isaac Smith’s run from the wing to kick a goal unimpeded, Puopolo’s desperation, Breust’s forward play, Grimley’s contested marking and Sewell’s clearance work. A workman-like performance before a week’s rest.

Best

3 – Breust (cult figure with Val Perovic-like crowd participation for every possession)

2 – Sewell

1 – Puopolo

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