Finals Week 2 – Hawthorn v Adelaide preview: “I’ll sit alone”

 

I tend to get a bit anxious at the football. My natural habitat is level 2 of the MCC Members’ enclosure, right in front of the coaches’ boxes looking down on the wing.  Where possible I get there early so I can grab a ticket for an aisle seat from one of the antiquated attendants. In part because of my long legs (being 6ft 4 in baby boomer speak) but primarily to give me a readily available path to egress in the event of the unspeakable torture of a tight game – I just cannot bear to watch. I spent the last 10 minutes of the Hawks v Port Preliminary Final pacing the promenade in front of the Members Services office listening for the pitch and volume of each cheer and groan to ascertain whether it favoured beloved Hawkers. Final siren…strain to hear, pray to hear…Yankee Doodle Dandy.  Ripper , I’m outta here.

For the last few years my regular companions have been fellow Hawkianados Andrew (old friend from Monash) and Victor (Italian mover and shaker). Half time siren sees us gather at the coffee cart tucked in behind the Committee Room to discuss the preceding quarters, me usually swooning at the wizardry of #33 and wondering how many times number #25 will be allowed to stuff it up before being banished forever to the McGoos.  We arrive at our latte destination via different paths, for we never sit together. I am just too anxious, and have my pre-game ritual to indulge – get my ticket, scamper upstairs to the library and snooker a comfy chair, crank up surfing movie “Single Fin Yellow” on my iPod to take my mind off the encounter to come, then make my way to my seat just before they run out on the ground (can anyone tell me why the prelude to Wolfmother’s  “Joker and the Thief” is played as the Hawks are walking up the race?). Settle in, wait for the ump to hold the ball aloft and, as he strides in to bounce, murmur sotto voce “c’mon hawks c’mon hawks c’mon HAWKS”… reaching a crescendo as the pill hits the turf.

And so tonight I will find myself here again, at the Home Of Football…but a week too early. Disaster in the West has left us vulnerable. Fear sits like a rock in the base of my stomach. As was deftly identified by Trucker Slim, there is something NQR about this season. Worse still, there is something even more NQR about the Mighty Fightings. Jackie-Boy “Gunstall” missing set shots he would have drilled in the last two years (one can only speculate the MJ-esque glove is hindering the ball drop). Roughie not been the same since The Scare – physically fixed (we hope) but is he a client for Rudi Webster? And Pookie’s favourite, the Skipper, our General, twice Norm Smith medal winner and Captain Courageous…two brain fart suspensions and out on the turps just before the finals. Recent losses to Tiges (albeit an annual event), Portia and the Weagles and I go into the cut throat final with genuine fear and foreboding. Our glorious run cannot last forever, but knowing that does not overcome the pain of feeling it…and fearing it. Is Wayne Carey right – have we lost the edge? Nothing less than domination over the Crows will purge the doubt.

The terror is compounded by the news that Voldemort (#25…we shall not speak his name) is back in. Was at a party on Saturday with Mark Lisle (ex-Roo) whose son Jordan had a stint with us. In the process he befriended “The Shoe”. Lovely bloke, apparently. Great long kick, passionate about making a successful career – and gets completely lost when the ball is in the air. For the sake of all that is good and Hawkie, I pray he spends no time in defence tonight. The horrors of the numerous rag dollings still loom large.

Having just read The Wrapster’s premonition for tonight’s game, and the analysis of the last 15 years of recruiting for The Family Club, there is no doubting that early draft picks and canny recruiting have played an enormous role in getting us to where we are today. Cherry picking laterals has brought in wonderful warriors, but they have miles in their legs. There is no doubt it is the Hawthorn way to let the young ones slowly mature in the seconds – but do we have time for this luxury? There is much wisdom in The Wrap, and my fear has cranked up a few notches to borderline terror. Could it be that I will join J. T. Harms on the Bus Called Despair as our once feared champion teams slide and Merely Make Up the Numbers?

My mind wanders to my children – what legacy will I leave to my family through socialising them to follow the Family Club? Elder daughter Courtney, who after brief boy-related dalliances with other teams has returned to the Hawthorn fold. My Punkin, who can make it all worthwhile…only by her smile. Who, when driving her home on elimination final weekend in 2007  as I was panic stricken at the prospect of defeat, looked across at me and said “Don’t worry Daddy – Hawkies will win”. And we did…and have done so every time she has since reprised those words of love and comfort. Of younger daughter Alexis, born on the 4th of July (as the song goes) 2008. Pookie, who has known three premierships in her 7 years on earth. Who joins me in our “Hawkies Dance” as we parade around the front room to the sound of our club song after every victory…or dons a sad face when I tell her there will be no dance today. Or of my son James – the black (and red sash) sheep of the family. The target of my ceaseless attempts to bring him back to the brown and gold – if for no other reason than to be able to go to the footie and share a beer with my son, with my young man. Will my children know the success and absolute joy that I have known in following my team, my Hawthorn…or will I commit them to the same heartache as my dear Tigers supporting friends, who thirty years ago also surely also felt it was their entitlement to know premiership success year upon year.

So what of tonight? Will all this uncertainty be swept away by a dominant display leaving me wondering how I could ever have been so silly as to doubt my Hawkers? Or will tonight be the first step in a fall from grace, the beginning of a period of introspection and time in the wilderness. The wonderful thing, and the awful thing, is that I just don’t know.

How will we go this year? Ask me mid October.

 

 

About Grant Fraser

Best known as a lumbering full forward for the East Doncaster U13 & U15 Reserves premiership teams. Proud to say that daughter Alexis was born in a premiership year like her Dad. Elder daughter Courtney has returned to the broad church that is the Hawthorn football club. Will never give up hope on luring The Boy (James) back from the clutches of the anti-Christ in red and black.

Comments

  1. Just flicked over for a score, approaching 3/4 time. Not a fan of your Hawks but so pleased they’re smashing the Crows. Somehow that helps lay my Bulldogs’ corpse to rest – and might shut McAvaney up (although he’ll persist in spewing any ordinariness from Rioli).
    footy’s off!

  2. Grant Fraser says:

    Punkin sent me a “we got dis Papa” text before the game…never in doubt after that

  3. Pamela Sherpa says:

    You really captured the emotion of being a fan Graser . Good luck to all those who are going through the trauma of a finals series ! Don’t despair for your son . At least he is following the same code. Just think of all the spirited conversations you can have about Hawthorn and Essendon- that’s a lot of togetherness.

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