Finals Week 1 – Geelong v Hawthorn: The End of the Rivalry? Forget About It


This rivalry just won’t die.


I don’t know whether it’s the fact that the hatred of 2008 (and maybe also 2013) still pumps strong with Geelong fans, or because Geelong and Hawthorn are always close on the ladder. But it just won’t die. It’s always the talk in the footy community when it’s nearing, and for me, it’s definitely a worrying week. Who wins the pride for now? And I don’t worry if it’ll be close; I know it’s going to be close. And that just makes me worry more.


I spent the previous Sunday afternoon hoping, just hoping, that Collingwood would upset the Hawks, saving us having to play them. My hopes were almost answered when the Magpies got out to a six-point lead late in the game. But they surrendered it. And the Hawks won by a solitary point. It was all set. A Friday night qualifying final with the biggest modern rivalry in the league. But there was something different this time. The wait was twice as long, with the AFL’s new pre-finals bye in place so clubs could rest their players and, while it was not said by the AFL, so the hype could build to boiling point.


The tickets were bought, the necessities were set out, and Friday night was set. Our third Geelong-Hawthorn final in four years was about to begin. The numbers and facts were buzzing in my head. My dad, however, is built on gut and heart, and his feeling was Geelong was going to win. The facts divided me on the result. Part of me said that Hawthorn had won the last two finals, and we were possibly due to win one, and the other part of me said that whenever Geelong had a bye, we lost. So, in all honesty, I had no idea, and decided to sit back and let the game speak for itself.


While we were walking towards Wellington Parade, I got a text from my best friend Ted (who is a Blues supporter). “Go Cats”, it said. A good omen? A bad omen? Some of you may think it’s a bit silly to think a text is going to decide a match, but I’m really superstitious.


The atmosphere did not fail to meet the expectations, with the 87,000-strong crowd’s noise probably reaching all the way back home in northern Melbourne when the national anthem finished. And as the screen showed the countdown from sixty seconds, I was already freaking out.


And the game did not fail to meet the expectations either, with the first quarter ending with just three goals due to both teams’ defences not letting through much. The Cats were leading by seven points, Dangerfield was soaking up the finals atmosphere and playing just like he had been all year, and now the pressure of keeping that lead on our side was huge.


It only took 73 seconds before we extended that lead, thanks to Hodge giving away a 50-metre penalty. The defence of both teams were now letting goals in more often, with Rioli and Hawkins adding to the scoreboard by the six-minute mark. Hawthorn then piled on three goals (which could’ve been more, if Hawthorn didn’t miss three times after those goals), which was putting us in deep water. Caddy then diminished the lead back down to two (which would be his first of two crucial goals).


Half time. Trailing by seven points. It was definitely possible that we could come back from that, but would Hawthorn let it happen?


By the sixteenth minute of the third quarter, the answer almost certainly seemed to be no. A team doesn’t give away a seventeen-point lead in the late stages of the third quarter in a final. But Hawthorn seemed to be an exception, because they let Menzel, McCarthy, and Blicavs bring back the lead to Geelong’s side. The game was back on. Breust then stole the lead again, before Motlop took it back and gave Geelong the upper hand at three-quarter time. At that point, everyone in the crowd knew it was going down to the wire. How many times had I seen this before? I immediately thought of 9 of the 12 ‘Kennett Curse’ games. Eight of those were Geelong wins. Could we make it nine? Like nine premierships? And nine lives?


Rioli ensured Hawthorn had the first say, kicking the first goal of the quarter. Guthrie then answered, giving Geelong the lead once again. Then Burgoyne kicked truly. For the next fifteen minutes, no one kicked a goal. Perhaps Burgoyne had won it again, like he did in 2013? Perhaps not, because Caddy ran in to goal and gave Geelong the lead again, with four minutes left on the clock. That was the eighth lead change of the game. And hopefully, it was the last. Every single time Hawthorn had the ball, I was hoping that Geelong could stop it. And whenever Geelong had the ball, I was hoping they could seal the match.


With less than a minute left (although most of the crowd was unaware of this), the Hawks were trying to get it out of the Cats’ forward 50. Hoping they would mess it up, the ball was handpassed to Hodge. However, his nerves must have gotten the better of him, because he dropped it, causing the ball to be soccer-kicked away from Hawthorn’s reach. Motlop decided it was all or nothing, as he quickly snapped on the reverse angle right near the boundary angle, resulting in a behind. Please, Cats. Don’t let them go far, I thought.


But they did. They found Breust, right on the edge of the inside 50. Looking back on it, I agree with what Nathan Buckley said. I’m surprised Boris’ route to get on the mark was not noticed by the umpires and penalised 50 metres. Breust kicked, Boris smothered (‘Phew.’), Breust regained possession (‘Get him, Boris!’), Boris tried to bring him down but only brought himself down (‘No!’), and Breust found Isaac Smith, completely free, 40 metres out, on a slight angle. Everyone was ballistic. I knew the siren was going to go any second. And I was right. The siren went, a huge noise rang out as everyone stepped up, and the players dropped down on the ground in exhaustion. Smith gave a little smile, as he looked above the several Geelong players trying to make him miss. I thought he would kick it. He was a reliable shot, and I remembered his goal in the 2013 Grand Final. The ball sailed off his foot, it looked on line from our angle, but then it went to the right and we screamed in triumph. We sang the song with incredible gusto, and yelled ‘Smithy!’ over and over again.


The gut feeling was right, the text was a good omen, and we had bragging rights over Hawthorn until next year.


And this game only strengthened the rivalry even more. So I’m sure it’s not going to die any time soon.


GEELONG 2.3 5.5 10.9 12.13 (85)
HAWTHORN 1.2 6.6 10.7 12.11 (83)


Geelong: Caddy 2, McCarthy 2, Motlop 2, Hawkins 2, J. Selwood, Menzel, Guthrie, Blicavs
Hawthorn: Breust 3, Rioli 2, Schoenmakers 2, Gunston 2, Burgoyne 2, Hill


Geelong: J. Selwood, Dangerfield, Guthrie, Hawkins, McCarthy, Blicavs, Menegola
Hawthorn: Lewis, Birchall, Gunston, Rioli, Breust, Hodge, Mitchell


UMPIRES: Margetts, Stevic, Meredith

CROWD: 87,533

OUR VOTES: Lewis (HAW) 3, Dangerfield (GEEL) 2, J. Selwood (GEEL) 1

About Ethan Munro

A faithful 14-year old Geelong supporter.


  1. It’s like a mini GF, before the real GF. After this game, I cared less about what happened. Hawthorn, Geelong and Sydney all looked like lumbering old-school teams up against the Doggies anyway, so maybe an era has ended…

Leave a Comment