AFL Round 17 – Adelaide v Hawthorn: The Butterfly’s Wing


I was nervous.


Good luck serves but bad luck curdles. For 5 weeks good luck had been a servant to the Hawks’ ambition. Then, in the blink of an eye (and an inexplicable choke hold) bad luck, like a blanket, seemed to wrap the same team up tight.


What if, what if, whatif. If I only had a dollar for every ‘what if’ I’ve conjured.


In footy you’re only as good as your last hit-out. One minute before the game against the Roos, the Hawks were considered Premiership favourites. Back to back. The dream. A week later commentators were speculating if they had it in them to maintain their place in the Top 4. The verdict wasn’t in the Hawks’ favour.


The Hawks injury list looks like the list my daughter scrawled of player’s autographs she most wanted.


Of course I’m nervous.


The first quarter is Hawthorn as the two faces of Janus. A deep unrest underlined their modus operandi. Unsure, unsettled. Smith, running into an open goal, uncertain. The devil snapping at his heel. His unconfident dribble seeking the goal post. Gunston, perhaps the one confident Hawk, couldn’t complete a one on one wrestle close to goal and convert. All the while the Crows building.


In the second quarter the Crows game gathered a pace. They looked quick, sharp and hungry. It woke the Hawks up to their own ambition. But first they had to slow the Crows. This wasn’t going to be a murder. It was hardly going to be a stoning. No. The Hawks would have to force the Crows to play the game on Hawthorn’s terms. Hodge, Mitch, Birch, Lewis and especially Suckling imposed themselves. Apart from Suckling the others are not fleet of foot. They are, one and all, fleet of mind.


It took the whole quarter to do it but do it they did. Suckling was key. He gave the Hawks the extra speed and accuracy to take the ball long out of defence and set up attacks. Birch played his best game in weeks. The Hawks backline is in good hands when Birch is playing well.


If the Crows went into the half-time break thinking they could break the Hawks they weren’t watching the same game as me. The Hawks had found (or re-gained) their ambition and with that they know they can make their luck.


Feeling less nervous than I did an hour before, I went off to see the Ruby Rogers Experience, an excellent Soul/Jazz/Blues combo, at The Spotted Mallard (great venue; an old Greek Ballroom on Sydney Road converted into a bar – check it out).


The Third saw Hawthorn wearing the future facing face of Janus and they took the game up to and then away from the Crows, a team still in the forming stage of its development. I followed the game on my telephone screen, AFL Live official app. Receiving half serious looks of disdain from the beloved for spending more time looking down at the screen than up at the stage I managed to follow the Hawks while supping on a Hargraves Stout.


Gunston was front and centre of the action. In a two minute frenzy he goaled to give the Hawks the lead (again, and for the rest of the game) and then set Breust up to goal. Breust equalled Locket’s record of 29 goals in a row with that goal. He would have broken it if not for Razor Ray calling an end to the Third 17 seconds too early and as Bruest was running down his 30th goal in a row, without kicking a point. Grrrrr! So why do umpires get such bad press?


The Hawks confidence is still bruised, no doubt. They had the chance to break the game wide open in the Third. They didn’t. Roughie had a quiet night. To tear games apart you need your number one goal scorer scoring.


At the three quarter time break my main concern was whether I should enjoy a Hawthorn Amber Ale or wait until the game was sealed. At the 17 minute mark of the Last the Hawks were 25 points ahead. Should I order now? Is ordering a Hawthorn ale to celebrate before we have the game in the bag putting the mocker on a win? Is my action in a bar in Brunswick the butterfly wing that alters events a thousand kilometres away in a manner I can’t predict or want to happen?


Fuck it, I’m thirsty. And feeling good. And I want to cheer the team. And the band has just played a terrific version of Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch’. I’m in the mood. I order the Hawthorn Amber Ale. The Crows score a couple of late goals to bring Hawthorn’s lead back to 12 points. But the game is done and I’m toasting a much needed win. The band launches into the Kenny Rogers and The First Edition song, ‘Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In’. I hear you, oh yes I do.


  1. Great account of the match Rick. Watching it from Brisbane in the lounge room of an Adelaide supporter, the two of us felt the Hawks would do enough to keep a few kicks ahead up until the end. ‘Lamentable’ was his repeated reference to Gunston the former Crow.

  2. Excellent recount Rick. I reckon the “fleet of mind” quality is the Hawks’ best asset, and what the Crows are lacking.

    The Ruby Rogers Experience sound great.” Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In” features wonderfully in The Big Lebowski during one of The Dude’s dream sequences. One of Kenny’s finest songs!

  3. Gregor Lewis says

    Love the theme TS.

    And its a story well told.

    When it’s an ode we sing.
    To the power of a fan’s butterfly’s wing.

    Makes this reader specifically feel old.

    The day he went to Princess Park, he remembers.
    Expecting a preview of September.
    In the first year after, the 1990 ‘disaster’.
    ‘Gainst the rampaging Eagles of 1991.

    With two early goals
    And Jarman being silky
    It seemed like we had them on the run.
    With a young man’s bravado
    I called it … We already had the game won.

    The Eagles, weren’t nothing to fear
    Especially here.
    Come to Melbourne to face
    Teams with quality, skillful grace,
    Go home with your wings clipped.
    Your feathers plucked.
    Well beaten.
    Not ready yet ‘son’.

    But two hours later.
    Eyes wide shut. Mouth Agape.
    Dry Mouth. Raspy tongue.
    Leather-beaten by pitiless Sun.
    It was the merciless Eagles,
    Who had US cooked.
    Some rare & bloody,
    But most ‘over easy’ … Well done.

    On that day I learned.
    How fate can be turned.
    By the intemperate phrasing.
    And premature hazing.
    The sinister power of ‘one’.

    From then I vowed.
    To keep my mouth shut.
    Not even crowing,
    Well after it’s done.

    Taking new pleasure.
    In quiet discipline’s measure,
    I stopped predicting or calling.
    Or surrogately jawing.
    Content to wait on,
    When Premiership’s Won.

    But after I see, read & hear.
    Such premature satisfaction paid out dear.
    I wonder just what has become.

    Of our competitive fire.
    Our crushing desire.
    When a proper thrashing in prospect,
    Is done …

    As just a win.
    With acclaimatory din.
    That’s a recipe for disaster.
    A Premiership blaster.
    For players, and fans,
    At home, in the stands.

    In ’91 we recovered.
    A way to win we discovered.
    The games that mattered,
    To better than even the score.

    From now on our team spirit.
    Has to lift and bind our endeavour.
    Has to harden our boys to the test.
    Lose even once and it’s ‘Danger’.
    Inviting Calamity – that insidious stranger.
    To put our back-to-back destiny.
    ‘Neath history’s floorboard once more.

    Hawks have to accept factually,
    It’s not a sin actually.
    To speak up about our need & desire to win.

    But being satisfied with Friday night.
    Is no way to see the light.
    What should have been a thrashing
    Just more of the same.
    From this season’s theme.

    Wasted momentum,
    Lets the wrong team win.

    That’s it with that!
    No more!

    From now on.
    Until the end of September.
    Our Hawks have to decide.
    If it’s a wave of Premiership momentum,
    We will ride.

    If so,
    No more lossess allowed.
    Win out !
    To destiny’s shore.

    Otherwise we remain,
    Lost in the breakers.
    Our shins cut to ribbons.
    Using as excuses our suspension/injury pain.

    That’s just not the way.
    Hawks ought to face the day.
    When Back-to-Back Premiership dawns.

    There is only one way.
    To prospectively face.
    That day.
    Win Out Hawkers.
    From now until then and …
    ‘uxkety ackwty wook’
    ‘It’s Yours!’ (with thanks to Bugs Bunny).

    Ah … That doesn’t sound so hard.
    Either way.
    Butterfly wings don’t matter, when we drop the excuses & focus on wins.


  4. Grant Fraser says

    Rick – magnificent as usual. But bad news for us I am afraid – the Tigers have spoken, and it is Port’s year.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good summary Rick it was the hawks better ball use and footy smarts which was the difference in the end , for the life of me I can not understand why the crows best football brain in Porplycia is not used correctly ( bloody , Gunston ! ) thanks Rick

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