“Go Hawks!”

by Bill Walker

I was accepted to the Knackery after a cold call to John Harms early in 2008. I had heard about the first book on the Coodabeens when they were at that convenient Sunday night spot. After spending the summer chuckling away, to the annoyance of all nearby, with my snout in the 2007 Almanac at the beach, it became obvious to me that the writers were a rare breed and I took comfort in realising there were others like me. I was not a lone fool on the hill.

My first offering was a report on a Hawthorn game, against the Crows, at York Park. No one, and nothing, was safe and even though I teetered at the edge of the far side John accepted my epistle, noting that I ‘just got away with it’.

Among several observations, barely related to the game, I recognised the birth of Sam Tremayne, the grandson of one of my old Hawthorn sparring partners. It was well received and I sent Sam a copy of the 2008 Almanac for his reference at a later time. I felt pleased I was able to acknowledge him and enable him to have the opportunity of digging into the vernacular footy archives, noting his arrival, at a time when he was a little more able to digest it.

Although Sam was born into a Hawthorn house hold I gave him a Geelong bear for his first birthday. You squeeze it’s paw and it sings a few bars of the wonderful adaptation of Bizet’s Toreador Song from the second act of Carmen. The gift was not well received by the Hawks in his house and even my family growled. Water off a Cat’s back.

I felt exonerated last year when I went to his house and the bear was out and when I pressed it’s hand, it emitted that wonderful tune. Sam clapped and called for more. He was a very happy child. Others frowned at me.

Sam would go along to the Hawthorn games and sit with his mother, granny, grandpa, aunt and uncle in the Gunns Stand. They were close. Sam was the glue. I caught up with them there at the Hawks Brisbane game in July. ‘Go Cats’ I said to Sam. He dropped his lip and said ‘go Hawks’ through his little brown and gold scarf. I knew it was too late. The Hawks had him.

After the Fremantle trouncing in August, Sam went into the victors room and as effervescent as ever he wandered amongst the players saying ‘hi guys’ with all the high fives.

At the Brisbane game I did get a snap of a very serious Sam and me. It was important. Time was running out.

You see Sam was not well. He had spent most of the last year in the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne receiving treatment for a very aggressive cancer. It was a long way from home across Bass Strait. After about ten months we were buoyed with the phone call saying he was in remission. Little Sam had been poked and prodded and endured enormous discomfort, but now he was on the mend.

We are just family friends but when the news came that the cancer had returned we felt immense pain. I can not imagine how family members, who had put their lives on hold to move to Melbourne and take turns at supporting him, felt.

Sam returned home about six months ago. He was growing up, was always chattering away and was on the move. He loved trucks; bookers he called them. Every one loved Sam. He was up and about.

I finally capitulated and took him a hand knitted, albeit hooped, brown and gold jumper a few weeks ago. It was a collaboration between my matriarchal neighbour and me. I had the idea. She had the needles, wool and dexterity. He liked it.

I went to Launceston last weekend, after some pointed suggestions from Jane who wanted the house to herself. Apparently I turn into a werewolf on grand final day. It was my intention to watch the season finale with a few Saints supporters who, although sort of confident, were sort of resigned to not being confident. The afternoon was a hoot, an absolute hoot. There I was totally relieved that I could watch a grand final with no regrets, again, while those around me were full on.

I took a series of snaps of one Sainter in various stages of agony, terror, tenseness and bliss. An interesting study indeed.

Game over, till next week, so I walked with my brother to his home via a few Rum and Cokes at the TRC and an ear chewing from him regarding the rising Tigers and fading Cats, had a fine home made Thai green curry and watched the ‘Baggies’ upset the ‘Goonars’ in the English Premier league over several cups of tea, hit the knacker blog noting the great discomfort felt by one and all from the day’s result.

The trauma and inconvenience caused by the result, or lack of it, was obvious through the seriousness and strength of debate. There were even a few Knackers apparently missing in action, perhaps too stunned to surface for more than a whimper. Then I hit the bed.

A pleasant morning over breakfast, and a leisurely drive home to the north-west coast punctuated the day. The debate raged on 774 as I drove along the coast and it seemed that the drawn game was the only thing that mattered in the world. It certainly appeared to be a big deal. For some the world had stopped at the final siren. That’s footy for you.

I walked into the kitchen and the sets of eyes that met me were somewhere else. Jane looked away and said quietly. ‘Rose just rang. Sam died this morning’.

I felt hollow.

The world had stopped.


  1. Bill

    I think I’ll be one of many who barely know what to say.

    Our thoughts are with you all.

  2. Phantom – very sad. Those of us who only have footy at the front of our minds are the lucky ones.

    Poor little bloke. There’s no sense in it.

  3. Peter Schumacher says

    This puts the whole thing into perspective. Perhaps I could add that most of the time footy is an antidote to life’s worries, but not this sort of ending.

  4. Bill
    Just read you’re post. If there a god then the bastard has warped sense of humour at times. My sincere thoughts to you and your dear friends.
    take care

  5. Thanks for sharing.

    A timely reminder to live life to its fullest.

    Go Pies !

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