AFL Round 6 – Richmond v Hawthorn: Hoodoo Shmoodoo

It is 10am on a Sunday morning as the State Library doors open. I walk briskly into the newspaper microfilm archives reading room, nearly tempted to break into a jog. It would seem a little nerdish to rush into a library at opening time but as there were about 50 others looking to do the same I had to ensure I get the best microfilm reader.These were lessons I had learnt 20 years ago when doing football history research.

Times, however, have changed. The hordes continue elsewhere and use new technology in other departments of the library. The hordes are living in the present while I aim to travel back to the 1890’s….I have the microfilm reading room to myself for the best part of 30 minutes.

My renewed interest in football history has come about through communicating with John Ure, a past president, treasurer and life member of Box Hill and also a life member at Hawthorn (possibly unique for an Essendon supporter).  He has spent 20 years compiling statistics, records and a manuscript which is progressing towards a history book for the Box Hill club. The only problem is that it really only covers the period from 1936 onwards – when the modern club was formed – and naturally centres around the VFA years and the Hawthorn alignment. I would like it to explore the origins of football in the district as well. For John to find this worthy of inclusion, I need to find some interesting stories from the early years.

Box Hill merged with Surrey Hills and Mitcham in 1893 to form Nunawading FC (representing the shire of Nunawading, not the present district) and enter the VJFA 2nd rate competition – which became the VFL Reserves competition later on. After a couple of games in 1894 they drop out of that comp to join the Metroplitan Association – which eventually became the VAFA. Box Hill do have some interesting history.

Damn, 3PM. Lost track of time. Hawthorn play Richmond at the G at 3:20. Exit library faster than the entrance earlier in the day. Museum station and Myki card has gone down about $10 – what happened to Sunday Saver? Only one train heading towards Richmond in next 7 min, but it’s going around the loop the other way via Spencer Street. Take my chances. This is like a weird dream where you can only move in slow motion and not reach your goal. These are not good signs when you are playing a hoodoo side like Richmond. How can Richmond even be a hoodoo side? Geelong beat us last week and they definitely are….but Richmond??

Fortunately the train ride is quick. I love walking through Yarra Park in autumn, it just feels like football lives here. The low sun through the yellowing elms on a calm and mild day. But this is no time for walking. Approaching the Colosseum and I hear a siren, sounds like a pre-game one as there is no roar. A ladies’ voice comes over the outside speakers – “All lower level seats have sold out, seats only available on upper deck in rows Q1-Q8 and Q9-Q16”. She could have said Q1-Q16 but I am guessing automated messages. Must be a reasonable crowd. Another siren as I go through the gates and within a minute a loud roar. Can’t see anything yet but it is Hawthorn fans jumping around – good sign.

Climb the stairs and emerge in Q area to another roar. Turn around to see some Hawthorn ants hugging each other. They’re actually players but do good ant impressions from the nosebleed section. Settle in to a seat in the very back row next to one of those submarine windows, a very good spot to watch team tactics and field placements but hard to make out players when squinting into the low sun.

Hawthorn seem to control the game for the 1st quarter but are wasteful in front of goal, Richmond go forward twice and get 2 goals. The second quarter is an arm wrestle and it seems like a lot of clanger kicks from both sides, I wonder if the TV commentators notice this from their lower perspective. Hodge and Mitchell seemed to be getting a lot of it while Rietwoldt was making the most of his possessions by holding it for an eternity when he finally got one – bronx cheers for his resultant point. 6.9 to 3.1 and the game is still alive at half time.

The 3rd quarter was a highlights reel event. After Matthew Lloyd happened to choose this very day to claim Rioli was an under-achiever, it seemed to be the cue that Cyril was waiting for. This is why you go to the football. 21 minutes, 7 touches and 4 goal of the day contenders (well only 2 really but when you are in a euphoric mood it doesn’t matter). On one occasion he would have broken the draft vertical leap record to cut off Petterd’s handball. Richmond defenders were witches hats. 64 points up and it was game over.

The last quarter had a solid Josh Gibson spoil which got a bit of push and shove going. Gibbo looked like he was going for the ball but you never know and Conca took a while getting up. The Tigers also unexpectedly bolstered their defensive numbers when a spectator tested out whether the $8600 fine system was still in place. As he was being unceremoniously carried off the scoreboard confirmed that it was still the case.

It was Hawthorn’s day and the short lived hoodoo was broken. Mitchell and Burgoyne get applauded off on their 250th games.

Things got better as news filtered through that Port were thrashing Geelong. Apparently Geelong had Mad Monday after beating Hawthorn, went for an end of season trip before someone reminded them it was only R5 and they went in under-prepared.

Best: Rioli, Mitchell, Hodge, Hill, McEvoy + 17 others



  1. Rick Kane says

    Sounds like you had a great day of it aussie80s. The investigation of the Box Hill Hawks history is an intriguing story in its own right. To cap it off with a Hawks demonstration win is dessert and Cyril’s game, the cherry on top. I would have loved to have been there to see that leap and steal goal. That’s one for the highlight reel. To have Hodge and Mitch on fire in the same game, mmmm. I want that.

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