AFL Round 13 – Hawthorn v West Coast: Another case for secession

I’m freezing my butt off sitting on the train texting my younger brother Billy, who is over from Perth celebrating a mate’s 50th with a dozen of his oldest friends (and some of mine) by going to the game. After the thrashing we got in Perth earlier in the season, it’s a bit like they’ve organized a funeral for his birthday. Meeting up with out-of-towners can be difficult at the best of times, but they’d all begun the day with a birthday lunch that extended to the start of the game. To further complicate matters the predictive text on my phone meant I was meeting them at Ethical Stadium. The walkway was a sea of brown and yellow jumpers and scarves heading across the walkway, like bumblebees swarming to their hive. I bought my general admittance ticket and climbed the never ending Ethical stairs to the third tier and greeted my old friends and their wives. “You’re puffing a bit Matty?” Billy observed. “I got to take it easy, I’m the same age as James Gandolfini, you know,” I replied.

When last many of us had met it was at the 2005 Grand Final. There was stocky vicious humoured Slade, who loudly berated Kim Beasley in the streets for his cynical, desperate grab at the popular vote by wearing a Swans scarf. Physically looming above the others was 6ft 5 inch tall Pricey, who, when Billy was coaching the ironically nicknamed “K Grade Killers” (Team motto: First in the showers!), sent me out with the water bottle filled with port to the hung-over ruckmen. It wasn’t pretty. I took my seat next to Ethi (Short for Ethiopian because he used to be thin as a rake), whose heart sits so obviously on his sleeve that  we had to leave early from the 91 Grand Final at Waverly, because we weren’t sure if he was going to cry or punch someone. They were all three sheets to the wind, but I knew their happiness was more than alcohol fuelled. Paterson Stadium is all members allocated seating for Eagles games (Billy has been sitting next to the same people for 18 years) and now they were sitting next to their mates at the footy, totally pissed. And piss funny.

During the warm up as Billy Ocean yacht rocks the stadium with “The Going Gets Tough”  as the players practice shots for goal. Slade pipes up with “If Kennedy kicks this we win.” It hits the post. We win the toss and the call goes up to leave while we’re ahead. At the bounce Billy let’s out rip-roaring “Boo!” which he informs me has become a tradition at Paterson Stadium since one of the Scott brothers said he’d never take his family there. The first move of the game comes when the wives shift to the other end of the row. The Eagles go in hard and spend most of the first quarter in their forward half, but take ages to put a goal on the board. My frustration builds as backmen keep blocking Buddy’s path to goal on his right when 32,000 people know he’s going on to his left. ” It’s a five goal breeze” Pricey declares under the closed roof.  An umpiring decision goes against us and Ethi let’s rip with “Gherkin!” Everyone turned to look at him quizzically. He shrugs, “It just came out.” Hawks fans are nervously subdued as  Billy reckons they’re nice supporters and if he lived in Melbourne maybe he’d go for  them. “You reckon? Let’s wait and see, shall we?” I replied enigmatically. As we go one point up the booze kicks in and I declare “We’re going to Brazil!”

Much the same in the second quarter only without the Eagles scoring bit. I lose my Footy record somewhere between the fourth and fifth round of 4 pot trays which reduces my knowledge of the opposition by 87%. The Hawks go two goals up and the crowd finds its voice. “Here it comes,” I declare, “the spoilt Hawthorn fan’s sense of entitlement.  They should be called Camberwell.” The Perth boys looked at me blankly. Suddenly the hive is buzzing  as Queen Bee Franklin doesn’t get an obvious free. Ethi let’s out with a throat searing condemnation without a single consonant involved as Billy asks if he’s swallowed his tongue. A Hawk supporter growls back at us from two rows down. “We’ve got a biter” Slade declares like Dracula spying a blood bank and directs all of his bile at the bristling hairs on the back of the biter’s neck. The Hawks pile on the goals and the cry of “Chewie on your boot” goes up from us too often.

Nick Nat has a bandage around his head that makes it look like he’s grown a grey goatee at half time. Butler is either full on or full off with his kicks and the night could be the making of Graff. Every time Hawthorn go forward they score a goal, so all we have to do is not let it go over the centre. It goes over the centre way too many times. The lines are flying as fast as Hawthorn’s rebounds.

“Time to bring Mal Brown on to start a fight”

“”Bailey makes ladders for Nic Nat.”

“They’ve kicked a point, now the rot has set in.”

“If we get our ducking game together we could win this.”

The Camberwell Bumblebees maintain their lead in the last quarter as Eagles handballs pinpoint teammates surrounded by brown and yellow jumpers deflating any chance of getting a roll on. Ethi’s head drops with disappointment like a toy drinking bird on a near empty glass of water as the comments became more defeatist.

“You’re going nowhere Hawthorn.”

“If we get four or five we’re in this.”

“Come on Hawthorn, bury us!”

“We’ve hit the fatigue point.”

“Us or them?”

One team made mistakes and the other didn’t. Hawthorn won, but the Eagles played their best game for the year leaving us on a high. The biter exits sullenly, giving us the finger as we drunkenly miss sing the Hawks song. “We’re a happy team…”

Hawthorn:       6.0     12.2    16.4    19.9 (123)

West Coast :    6.2      7.6      12.7    16.7 (103)

GOALS
Hawthorn:
Roughead 5, Gunston 5, Breust 3, Franklin 2, Savage 2, Lewis, Simpkin
West Coast: Kennedy 5, LeCras 2, Shuey 2, Selwood, Naitanui, Masten, Darling, Cox, Dalziell, Priddis

BEST 
West Coast: Gaff,  Cox, Shuey,  Kennedy,  Mackenzie

Hawthorn: The big red headed dude, the one crowd make the noise when he kicks and that bloke who used to be captain, but is not captain now, even though everybody treats him as captain.

Umpires: Nicholls, Meredith, Findlay

Official crowd: 32,567

Malarky Medal: 3 Gaff (WCE), 2 Cox (WCE), 1 Roughead (Haw)
 

Comments

  1. Correction! The spoilt Hawthorn fan’s sense of entitlement. They should be called West Coast.

  2. Matty Q says:

    Thanks for backing up my argument Tony. Cheers

  3. Peter_B says:

    We’re struggling Matty, but I enjoyed Friday night because we had a RHG. Friday and the North game are the only ones I have enjoyed as games of footy.
    I’ve marked the cards of a few of them, but will not put names in print yet for fear of disloyalty (unless severely provoked later in the season).
    But I would like your opinion on 2 of our boys:
    – Kerr?? Has another year on his contract.
    – Darling?? Brilliant in his first 2 years and I thought he was going to be the next big thing, but?? Teething time or did I overrate him??
    Thanks for making me smile, Matt.

  4. Matty Q says:

    Thanks Pete. Kerr is still brilliant and like Ablett, players can’t seem to get him to ground before he gets the ball away (did a ripper blind handpass on Friday night).
    In harsh words of one of the lads on Friday, “Darling. Trade bait.” Not sure I agree but it made me laugh.

  5. Rick Kane says:

    Good read Matty, a bit biased but what can you do. Hawks won what was a cracker of a game and Hawks fans received a couple more entitlement tokens.

    Cheers

  6. Thanks Ricky, I’ve tried to embrace my bias in this piece, although Hawks efficiency meant I saw less of them with the ball than my blokes. Give your blokes all the votes in your next match report to make up for mine. Cheers

  7. aussie80s says:

    A great read. Really captured the banter and humour that appears in the stands and eloquently transferred it into a transcript.

  8. Neil Belford says:

    Wow – you might have bitten off more than you can chew there Matt. Camberwell entitlement is a given, its a right, but I’m pretty sure the residents of Hawthorn feel even more entitled than their slightly more suburban neighbours.

  9. Rick Kane says:

    I thought so to Neil. He would have done better calling us Canterbury (the Golden Mile and all that) or even Preston W (as I describe my suburb to my Manhattan associates).

  10. Glenda Ellis says:

    Love it! I had to watch on a 17 inch screen, so this report brought the game more into focus. Ethical Stadium is the problem. The Hawks and Eagles need the space of the G. Footy with the roof closed is really a bit soft.

Leave a Comment

*