Grand Final preview: Diary of a dialectician in training


Wednesday, 26 September 2012, somewhere in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. The sun is out. While a slight chill hangs in the air, spring is announcing itself everywhere. From the kitchen window I look out at our Wisteria in full bloom and Mt Fuji flowering cherry, well, flowering. Our kids are sleeping in. School holidays. More power to them. I’m reading the sports page on my computer and running late for work. And the Hawks are in the Grand Final. Four years after they stole the Premiership they have made it, on their own terms.

Within ten minutes of the Preliminary Final win, I had 23 text messages and 33 Facebook messages. On the Epping train home I savoured the goodwill in those messages. I especially relished them because I know that had we lost (and that was a possibility right down to the siren) I would have received the same amount of messages. Only this time, Nelson, from The Simpsons, like, they would have essentially said: Ha, Ha!

The win meant the train was buoyant with positive energy. There was a sigh or two in every conversation but you couldn’t hold back the beaming. There is no point to hang around the ‘what happened’ conversation. And yet we do. Was our poor, nervous, out of position, play an anomaly or a harbinger? I lean towards anomaly. Recent form suggests that what it was. Or was it?  Jezz, I feel like my mind’s a small boat being tossed around the seven seas of doubt, restlessness, apprehension, morosity, night sweats, suspense and a troubled soul.

There are three sleeps to go. So far, I’m getting a good seven hours per night. It helps that I flew back from the UK last week and my sleep patterns are now clicking in. Also, I’m reading David Marr’s Quarterly Essay on Tony Abbott before bed. That helps. Finally someone is putting that mean spirited wannabe PM to the sword. And Abbott aint looking the goods. Well done Mr Marr. You are taking my mind off greater concerns and allowing me the sleep of the just.

What is going to happen? I play the game in my mind almost every ten minutes. I wonder if Goo is gunna play. Was Monday’s announcement a ruse? It is GF week after all. Who will miss out for Hodgey? Will it be Murphy who has won Best Clubman? Poor old Murph. He just doesn’t click when he should. He does some great stuff but is prone to the odd snafu decision. In moments when what is needed most is clear headedness his lack shows.

The Kennedy story hangs like a Damoclean sword. I wish he still played for the Hawks. He’s that good. More than that, ties that bind families matter. In ways that sadly, we only truly appreciate too often too late. From our formative years, we struggle to establish and maintain our identity, be it the individual or the country. And so it is, with families and with entities approximating families. Like Footy clubs. At the heart of the community is the sense of family and belonging. The Kennedy family is so ingrained in the Hawthorn story it is hard to see a Kennedy strap on boots for the opposition. And when the Kennedy is as good our Sydney foe, it makes it harder still.

You know what, we can win it. We should win it. We have lost one game since our May 26 capitulation to the Tigers. That’s 16 games for one loss. And that was from a goal scored after the siren. Our team is fit and pumped. Pundits reckon Buddy had an off day/night/twilight, scoring 3.6. He directly assisted 4 other goals. Keep those off games coming Buddy.  Across the field we have greatness, across the group we have unity. This isn’t the side that ran outa steam against the Pies in the Prelim last year. This year’s side is more mature, skilled and confident. Bring it on.


  1. Grant Fraser says

    Rick just remember we haven’t lost a Grand Final since 1987.

    I am happy for Joey to win the Norm (as Geelong’s former #5 did in a losing side some time ago) provided we prevail. J Kennedy Snr. comments were insightful…along the lines of hope the boy does well but you are kidding if you think I will be barracking for anyone else but the current incarnation of the Commandoes.

    Please, please, please let us win – easily. I couldn’t go through another final term like last Saturday. Still getting over the scars of ’84 and now feel like the scab has bene picked. Sick and tired of looking at the back of the bloke in front of me when there is a game of footy going on.

    Always Hawthorn.



  2. Rick, the big concern I have as a devout Hawk supporter is that the Swans only have to stop one player, No 33. No Squirrel, no Squawk.

    Hang on there is another. The ‘cobbler” is very good at re-igniting out of form big forward’s careers.

  3. Good luck Rick & enjoy the game.

    Good point re Buddy’s game in the Prelim. I’ve been searching for a Zevon quote for you to meditate on this week if Buddy is well held early:

    “But deep inside, Buddy only dreamed of a goal
    He just wanted one damn goal”

  4. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Rick, north of the border, I sympathise. Think I’m on about 6 hours a night and it’s getting slimmer as Saturday approaches. We’re playing the game in the head up here too – will Morton hold his spot, who can outsmart Burgoyne in defence with McGlynn upstairs in the box, is Teddy too proppy for Buddy … ? To you, Rick, solidarity in opposition.

  5. Mate great read you described my emotions like you are in my head at the moment…look fwd to catching up Friday and bring on Saturday

  6. Earl O'Neill says

    Sweating off a few excess pounds in Vietnam, I plan on putting them back on Sateve celebrating a Sydney win.

  7. Hi Grant, thanks for the reminder. That’ll help the anxiety levels!

    Nice try Mr P, as good as Junior is (and he is) we’re more than just one man. Ask Hodgey.

    Thanks DB. With 5 mins to go last Saturd’y line from Lawyers, Guns and Money was starting to sound about right (“the shit has hit the fan”)

    Mathilde, I wish your team all the best (I’m joking)

    Rob, more nervous today, more nervous than 2008

    Earl, speaking as a responsible member of the community I hope you keep the pounds off. Let me take a lard bullet for you.


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