AFL Round 17 – Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs: Shades Of Grey

It’s starting to rain, there’s snow forecast in the nearby hills and it’s a Saturday. This is weather made for football.

My Hawks are playing Footscray in Tassie. They’re not called Footscray anymore but they look like the old Scraggers as they have returned to their roots and reintroduced that classic jumper, even if it is printed rather than woven. I love that a bit of tradition survives. I am not going to Tassie but would love to some day as that ground, apart from all the seating, looks like a traditional ground. A bit of character and right in the middle of a paddock.

Instead, with radio at hand to keep up with Tasmanian developments, I will head off to Box Hill City Oval to watch the Mustangs take on the Bullants, only neither are called that anymore either. In a sign of the times both clubs have vanished and been usurped as the Hawthorn and Carlton Reserves sides. Preston are now known as the Northern Blues and it probably explains why those long serving supporters of the red and white no longer follow this incarnation.

The old VFA had character, atmosphere and large crowds, although the latter was also partly due to the fact that the VFA was the only place that sold beer on a Sunday in the 70’s. The crowd here today would be lucky to be 100, there were more officials than spectators. The old Box Hill ground used to be a sea of black mud in this sort of weather so there is something to be said for modern drainage, although the cricket nets were under water – but let’s not talk cricket right now.

The VFL game has a 1pm scheduled start as it is the ABC TV match of the day, which is about 40min ahead of developments on the apple isle. The announcer at Box Hill must have had his footy tunes on the iPod shuffle as he played 5 different themes before he found the Hawks’ song. Northern seem to adapt to the wet weather better and quickly get a few goals on the board. Meanwhile Tim Lane informs that Sam Mitchell is out for Sewell in a late change down south. Hawthorn is going into their game a little undermanned also missing Franklin and Burgoyne but the radio crew see nothing to worry about. The sun is apparently shining at Aurora while there is nothing but a constant grey over Whitehorse Road. Melbourne on a dreary day often appears in shades of grey but the scene is not the type that cause women to buy large numbers of books of a similar title.

The Roughead cousins get to play on each other while Picken is apparently using a variety of tactics to put Rioli off his game. The big interest is how young Langford goes in his first game. Box Hill kick their first goal part way through the 2nd quarter while Roughead opens Hawthorn’s account at around the same time early in the 1st. Hawthorn get out to a 3 goal lead and then maintain that for a majority of the next 90min as inaccuracy inflicts both sides while Box Hill drift further off the pace with a very inexperienced team.

There is a bit of excitement on the radio as Hodge smothers Griffen, takes the ball and kicks a team lifting goal from long range. Tim Lane likens it to Peter Bosustow’s goal of the year effort against Geelong in the 1981 finals series, but then again Tim is always quick with a Carlton analogy. Something to check out when I get home.

Box Hill and Northern are hard at it but it is played in a fairly friendly manner. I imagine what Phil Cleary – who was giving sideline commentary – would make of that. Perhaps a chance to stand on an errant hand or head in the clinches was not capitalised upon as it may have been in earlier times. The rain got heavier in the second half and Northern won by plenty.

Meanwhile as I depart the ground Hawthorn are getting a bit of action out of Simpkin who came on as the sub at three quarter time, kicks 2 goals and livens up a Hawks side that was meandering towards a regulation win. The margin extends into the 40’s before the Doggies snare 4 quick ones in junk time to give a final margin of just 19 points. Griffen and Gianciracusa are often mentioned.

Best according to amount of mentions they got were:

Hawthorn: Smith, Hodge, Lewis, Hale and Hill

Bulldogs: Griffen, Cooney, Liberatore and Gianciracusa


  1. Rick Kane says

    It deserves to be watched one more time!


  2. aussie80s says

    Hodgey’s goal was a ripper, although I liked the Guerra-Stratton-Franklin 8 second coast-to-coast effort more – one of the best goals I have ever seen and it blended in so well with the seats being vacated in the Collingwood cheer squad.

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