Grand Final 2015 – West Coast v Hawthorn: ‘Hotter than Hell’… but ‘I want to Rock and Rioli all night and party every day’.


Like copious other kids in the 1980s, I was drawn to iconic rock group ‘KISS’. Old school rock, searing guitars, towering drumming… and the heels, hair and make-up! My cousin, a crucial few years my senior, went to the VFL Park concert, back in the day. Alas, Mum wouldn’t let me go (sensible parenting). I played the shit out of a couple of KISS albums, long since re-collected from my nature strip. Still, affection endures and I’ve downloaded them all over again. Long ago, they had a song called ‘Hotter than Hell’, my first indelible memory of the 2015 Grand Final.


Track 1: ‘Hotter than Hell’ (Title track from KISS’ 1974 album).


The hottest Grand Final on record was damn hot – too hot. Starc could have been running in with the new ball or Novak serving for the set. We were warned early in the week and I sought meteorological review of the decision, from Jane Bunn.


The media landscape was dominated by ‘w’s’ – weather, wilting (Hawks) and webs (Eagles). I don’t do a lead-in well and restlessly opted for media ‘brown out’. In Mildura either side of October 3, spent the week before clutching at omens, or a sign from Elvis.


Greg Baum wrote, after the Adelaide semi final;


Football fans are like religionists; they look for signs affirming them as the chosen. If the faith of the Hawthorn people was shaken in the western wilderness, last week, it was quickly and gloriously returned on Friday night…. In the beginning there was the word. And the word was Hodge.”[1]



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Hawkish café, in Mildura.

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By extension, an Unsociable shop.


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Streets off San Mateo – Hawthorn on the Murray.



In conversation, a Hawkish colleague said he did not intend to watch the Grand Final on television, due to a deep-seated superstition that whenever he turns it on the opponent scores three goals. ‘Don’t watch’, I encouraged.


On Grand Final day, I was sitting at the Punt Road end, 6 rows off the fence… in the sun. I have never felt more Scottish. Too hot for Melbourne black, I settled on a baseball cap and t-shirt. By quarter-time, arms bronzed from their lighter shade of vampire.


Track 2: ‘Hell or Hallelujah’ (Title track from KISS’ 2012 album).


One week ago, I was heartened by the prospect of West Coast on the MCG. Now the ‘G was like the Pilbara and we’d played one more final than they. Overthinking in a time for drinking, I headed to the bar. There, I was taken to the most ambivalent place on earth, a Disneyland queue with no ride. Hot and dry, I took in some circulating, fan forced oven air, mindful my next few hours presented a definitive either/or; summer of delirium or seeking refuge in philosophy, holding it to the light and reasoning none of it really matters… ahem.


Track 3: ‘Talk to Me’   (From KISS’ 1980 album, ‘Unmasked’).


I was feeling Hugh’s absence. In calamitous timing, he was abroad on Grand Final day, incommunicado, sightseeing the waters on Mars. It’s dangerous to speculate his wife booked the odyssey. Two other Hawkish friends were close by and scattered neutrals. Eagles supporters were in numbers, they seemed buoyant about the deal, accustomed to the heat or had not left their bar run too late.


My only recollection of the pre-match entertainment is the anthem.


The Eagles ran out in their Sweden strip, the Hawks in the traditional with the white shorts – perhaps we were the away team, or royal blue is strikingly similar to dark brown. In any case, pinned my hopes on the white being cooler.


‘Alright Melbourne, you wanted the best and you got the best, the hottest band in the world, KISS!!!’ (Intro to Melbourne concert at Rod Laver arena – 6 days after the 2015 Grand Final – and the intro to their opening number ‘Detroit Rock City’, from KISS’ 1976 album, ‘Destroyer’).


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Paul Stanley on the lead.



No sooner had siren sounded than ball was down my end, an Eagles rushed point, followed by a free kick and goal to their Shuey. ‘Umpires off to a flyer’, I thought in sunny negativity, recalling a 26-14 difference a fortnight ago.


I could not have ordered our response off the menu. Roughead’s spearing hand pass, put the ball in Cyril’s hands – good hands – his snap over the shoulder brought a wave of tribal roar. We were up and away.


6 minutes in, West Coast’s Shuey ran at goal, on tight angle. With a teammate inside, he dribbled a shot rather than hand it off – big miss. The Hawks briskly carried it away and McEvoy stood tall over Sheed. Two straight.


The Eagles attacked again. Dangerous entries cut off by a courageous Burgoyne mark and Smith did the same, when Darling’s hook was crook.


Schoenmakers centered handsomely to Cyril whose set shot from 45 metres brought up his second. Absolutely what I wanted. There was no player out there with more talismanic qualities or beguiling combination of fast hands, light feet, vertical leap, swashbuckling boldness, selflessness, and imagination[2].


As the Grand Final played out, when Cyril was near the ball something happened and when Cyril was nowhere near the ball, something happened.


21 minutes in – deep in Hawthorn’s attack – pressure from both teams reached climatic point. With ball in dispute and West Coast looking to evacuate, Sam Mitchell cut a path through bodies and found a perfect handball target in Birchall. Off the left, Birch drilled it home – classic Hawthorn pressure and precision.


With a minute to go, Rioli found more space – too elusive for any insidious snaring meshes – he marked and then spotted Bradley Hill, who walked in for a late stunner.


Moments and momentum, wind into sails, wind out of sails. At 5.0 the Hawks were shimmering. The Eagles – despite their good industry, only ebbing late – had squandered chances. And they would do it again.


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Unsociable Gene Simmons.



Track 4: ‘You know your man is working hard, he’s worth a Deuce’ – (‘Deuce’ from KISS’ 1974 self-titled album).


The second minute of the second quarter had a second indelible note. Luke Hodge, confined on the boundary, with nothing on offer and nowhere to go, lined up his heroic shot. From my vantage point, a high ball on the wind went sharply right… though the middle. Did Hodge allow for the wind, or did the wind allow for Hodge? Elvis winked an eye.


Hurn missed and we were in again. Mitchell the producer, wobbly kick from Schoenmakers and a ‘loose again’ Cyril. He went by hand to Gunston, who hooked it in.


And then was indelible memory three.


Under the pump since it re-commenced, West Coast finally looked set to clear when the Cheetah brought down Gazelle. Cyril’s thrilling closing speed and Hutchings panic release, creating another one for Gunston. Cyril started so far back and had to swerve an opponent, you wanted him to get there but he couldn’t possibly? – until he did. On the biggest day, it was the paramount inflection point and will be the consummate highlight of Cyril’s career, the pick of quite a bunch.


The Hawthorn crowd was bouncing to good vibrations and Déjà vu sensations. It continued when Smith’s long ball to Hodge floated serendipitously through. Nine straight. 43 points!


West Coast’s Hill hindered a developing party with his fine goal and their misplaced resistance rose again. Hawks abating, Eagles trying to claw back. Misses to Butler and Priddis didn’t help, before Yeo nailed one on half time.


Retreating for half-time shade, observed a woman being fanned and counseled by friends, “You gotta wear a hat, the sun fries your brain”. Mine was scrambled. Good though a 31-point lead was, were the Hawks fried and fanned? Good though we’d been, it didn’t feel made in the shade. Were we in unassailable, impregnable position on the hottest Grand Final day ever? Could we stop dead?


Track 5: ‘Strike down the one who leads me, I’m gonna take his place…’ (‘War Machine’ from KISS’ 1982 album ‘Creatures of the Night’)


Nerves were jangling to a more even opening in the third, with more fluid ball use from West Coast. The Hawks missed an early chance; ‘Silk’ overcooking a handball that would have sent Breust in.


West Coast attacked with a long ball to Darling, in the pocket. He converted and it meant they had scored the last 3 goals. I was alive to the issues, (1) my colleague had turned on his f**king television and (2) we were rising 30 minutes without a goal (either side of half time).


The Eagles loomed likely to trim the margin to a feasible 3-goals, until their notorious Grand Final blues: Shuey’s pass to Dureya, rather than Darling – the white shorts were indistinct – and then Darling fumbling off chest and bumbling between legs.


The Hawks took the breaks.


Paul Puopolo ran the wing and found Cyril who centered to a kettle of Hawks and Shoenmakers ran in for a critical tenth goal.


Track 6: ‘Shout it out Loud’ (from KISS’ 1976 album ‘Destroyer’)


Notwithstanding Hutchings reply, the Hawks had their second wind now. Gunston was the receiver, twice. Second time, after Cyril’s handball intercept thrilled the crowd. Looking to the scoreboard, 22 minutes gone, noted they needed nearly as many (38) as they had on the board (39). Isaac Smith bounced in another one. It’s our day!


The realization you’ve ‘got it’ is earth shaking. Speaking to neutrals, after they finish yawning, the common view is we had it sometime in the second. One claimed to know after Birchall’s goal in the first! I could not think that on the day, different when you’re emotionally involved.



Track 7: ‘I want to Rock and Roll all night’ (from KISS’1975 album ‘Dressed to Kill’)


In the dying of the third, (Ex-) Suckling was subbed on and kicked another, extending the lead to 50 points. The party started. In the final quarter, the Hawks put on the first two (in 5 minutes); Roughead, who might have let Cyril’s ball float through, and then Smith after Hawthorn’s pressure swept last cobwebs away.


From there, a holding pattern, both teams were appreciably zonked as the sun headed over the city. Latterly, it felt like we’d kicked 6. We had – 6 points! Up to then, 16.5. Eagles won their only quarter of the day, by 4 points.


And then the siren, singing, texting, hollering skyward as the Cup was lifted and chanting for our Norm Smith medalist, ‘Cyril!!! … Cyril!!! … Cyril!!!” We watched their slow lap and cheered. In difficult conditions, they were the best.


Stayed on for the post-match concert – Bryan Adams and Ellie Goulding – (enjoyed first drink around 10:00pm) but of course, the real post-match concert was 6 days later, when KISS came to town (Gil, next year? – they’ve played the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics).


I’ve covered a third of the KISS set list, with the exception of ‘Talk to me’, which they didn’t do because Ace (who sings on that one) was not himself. He was Tony Thayer, terrific guitarist. Eric Singer was on drums.


The concert featured a giant computer controlled spider (but no web) that the band descended from, as well as huge pyrotechnics and God of thunderous sound. They were energetic, engaging and played the crowd-pleasers, Deuce, Black Diamond, Rock and Roll all Night, Love it Loud, Cold Gin and Detroit Rock City were my picks.


I wasn’t at V.F.L Park back in the day, but I was at KISS in 2015. They are what they tell you they are – still the “hottest band in the world”. Perfect after the hottest Grand Final in the world. Be it Hawks or KISS, I was made for loving you…er, them.


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Tuesday after the Grand Final, keeping it suitably low key in Mildura.

[1] Baum. G, “Blessed are the Hawthorn merciless”, The Age, Saturday 19.9.2015.

[2] As I wrote after Cyril’s 6-goals in Round 20, 2015.

About Paul Campbell

Lawyer, left footer. Loves the Hawks and follows a few U.S sports.


  1. Trucker Slim says

    Thanks for the ride PC, you brought the thrills and spills of that great afternoon back to life. The game (or the Hawks) were pumping like a rock and roll revival show. That you weave the KISS concert in with the Hawks gig makes the whole GF even bigger. I would have liked to see Hodge shoot fire after that goal!

    KISS songs don’t really trouble themselves with second level meaning in their lyrics (Love Gun!) so it’s hard to do the metaphorical links but you sir have done very well to find those links. Did they play King of the Mountain? I think that one links to the Hawks right here right now.


    Love the photo-essay as well!

  2. Paul Campbell says

    Hi Rick,

    Thanks for your note. They didn’t do King of the Mountain, but plenty of other classics (2 songs post-1987). The entire set list is below. Hahaa, good point on Love Gun…. and Dr. Love!

    Fire breathing, blood spitting, Paul and Gene flying over audience – helluva show!

    Correction: guitarist is Tommy Thayer (not Tony), he’s been with them a while.


    2. DEUCE
    7. DO YOU LOVE ME?
    9. DR LOVE
    10. LICK IT UP
    12. GOLD GIN
    13. LOVE GUN
    16. SHANDI – Having a bit of fun at themselves, played a little and then cut into Shout it out loud.

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