Grand Final – West Coast v Hawthorn: Preparation is the key to success

Bouncing son Frank on my hip, I excitedly told him he was about to experience his second `prelim’ and he wasn’t even two yet. From the bleachers the wife Bri informed that her Tigers had only been to one unsuccessful `prelim’ in her lifetime.


That eased the anxious nerves before tackling the Dockers – we’re a fortunate bunch made of brown and gold.


Success in the west led to structure for Grand Final week for this member though. Superstition obscenely dictates many aspects of my big game preparation. In 2012 I failed to undertake many of the usual tasks about to be listed and the football Gods ensured I paid the price.


First rule – watch the game among Hawthorn supporters only. That usually means in the comfort of my home surrounded by Hawk balloons (debut in 1989), streamers (debut 1991), TAB tickets supporting Lewis for `Normie’ (2008), hanging jumpers and scarfs (debut 2013) and wearing the same shirt I have worn to every game of that season.


Opportunity had knocked though. I have never been to a Grand Final and had been presented with a Golden Ticket thanks to fellow Hawk member Zorba – AFL Members, centre wing, level 4, row F. Wisely the wife demanded that I attend, I would regret it otherwise no matter the result.


I was excited as a toddler at a Wiggles concert – I was going to my first Grand Final. So preparations began. Children Lewis and Frank had homemade floggers made, the lounge was decorated, the colours worn to work, specific beer Miller Chill was purchased (not in 2012) and as has happened since the Hawks finals campaign got back on track, I tackled the 1000 steps Friday morning. It was uplifting to receive `Go Hawks’ from others passing (yes, I wear Hawthorn exercise gear).


On the train Zorba laughed at my obvious pre-game nerves. He claimed he would only need two hands to count the number of words this talkative chap was going to speak on the ride, while I chipped back with that it would be the exact value of his Greek property portfolio. We are mates.


Pre-game drinks at the Precinct with fellow Hawk tragics were CC and dry with lime. There was no Miller Chill. Arriving at the ground, I was impressed by the atmosphere. Colours were displayed everywhere and there wasn’t a flat corporate feel I was expecting. It was game on.


Rocking to Bryan Adams, one of only two concerts I have ever been to, led to classic Brady before standing for the national anthem. Then – what a ROAR. First bounce, Nic Nat clears easily and West Coast lock it forward.


Beside me father Daniel had his young boy on his lap. That would curb my enthusiastic language choice. Their shared experience made me think of my boys at home and our `meant to be’ three-peat – Lewis (born 2013) and Frank (born 2014). 2015 would be mine – forever linked in celebration by our three-peat (wife advises fatherhood is a strong link too).


Cyril exploded in the first quarter and the crowd went with him. Silk set the tone with a courageous mark. Mitchell had more time than Big Ben and Smith took more turf than grazing sheep. We were on.


When Hodge kicked the greatest Grand Final goal at the start of the second quarter, the Hawk army erupted. Add the chase down of Cyril and ecstasy had set in. All guns were firing while the Eagles brought wet lettuce. I recalled the Saturday night prior when I shared with the wife how clinical the Hawks left the field the night before compared to the joyous celebrations of the Eagles. Experience does count and the Hawks have spoken of the 2007 finals series, when an amazing elimination final win against Adelaide was followed by a shocker a week later.


Early texts from neutrals declared the Hawks home. I wasn’t as confident. We appeared tired late in the second. What surprised was the total resignation from Eagles supporters during the break, whether queuing for the toilet or a beer, comments praising how great the Hawks were and deserved the flag. There was still half to play.


Post-game analysis would highlight glaring errors by the Eagles early in the third term, but at the ground they didn’t seem so blatant. What was ominous – the Hawks pressure and composure. This modern Hawthorn version absorbed the opposition heat – then executed five minutes of clinical attacking football. Game over.


I refused to ease the nerves until the 100-point mark was reached. Thankfully the Hawks achieved that swiftly in the fourth quarter. Celebration time had well and truly begun. I was proud for the much-maligned Schoey. He is a forward, not a defender. He is now a premiership star.


Zorba and I headed home to share the joy with our boys before adjourning together again at a bar to celebrate. One thing agreed – this Hawthorn outfit is the greatest team of all time. There is no argument. Hawthorn played 10 finals – two against Geelong and the rest against interstate teams. Three-peat in a national competition with no concessions – an easy debate to dominate.


Why such dominance? Because players and fans alike prepare methodically well. A toast – with my Miller Chill surrounded by Hawthorn balloons.


HAWTHORN           5.0  9.3  14.5  16.11 (107)
WEST COAST         1.5  3.8 5.9  8.13 (61)


Gunston 4, Smith 3, Rioli 2, Hodge, Roughead, Birchall, Schoenmakers, Hill, McEvoy, Suckling
West Coast:
 McGovern 2, Darling, Hill, Hutchings, LeCras, Shuey, Yeo


Rioli, Mitchell, Smith, Hodge, Gunston, Burgoyne, Frawley
West Coast: 
Gaff, Shuey, Butler, Hutchings, Priddis


Umpires: Dalgleish, Rosebury, Stevic

Official crowd: 98,633 at MCG

MY VOTES: Rioli 3, Mitchell 2, Hodge 1

About Bradley Thomas

Tried every sport, excelled at none. Enjoyed being a participant though. Among the passions are Hawthorn, thoroughbred racing, border collie Barney and of course, my wife and two sons. Love the joy of cheering a Hawthorn goal, landing a Running Double and deflating a batman's ego with slow swing bowling.


  1. Bradley
    I wore the cufflinks I purchased at Hawks Nest to the Tigers game – but in the week leading up to the Prelim Final I lost one so could wear them no more.
    My wife had turned around the 2015 team photo that was resting against a wall – but before the Crows game I turned it right way around and facing out.
    I wore my 2014 members polo to work on the Friday we played the Weagles in the west..and on a spur of the moment decided to don a hawks singlet rather than the polo for the Grand Final bbq.
    Darling daughter Courtney sent me the much anticipated “we got this” text before the game.
    Before the first bounce came the sotto voce “c’mon hawks c’mon hawks C”MON HAWKS”
    For these reasons we won on Saturday.

  2. AND so glad you too noticed the contrasting celebrations at the conclusion of the Prelims. Bode well, I thought.

  3. Next article should be about how Port Adelaide will stop the hawks from winning 4 in a row just like Brisbane.

  4. ILuvHawkThugs says

    Great to hear Graser they’re are many out there as tragic and ridiculous as I am about `the little things’. One I had forgotten for the article, my two boys had to always wear the same shirts on Hawkers Day.

  5. As enjoyble read second time as it was back in early October when the planets aligned. Go the mighty Hawks!

  6. ILuvHawkThugs says

    Thanks Rick. It has been a wonderful time for us Hawkers. With membership packs on the way, it is time to get excited about footy again (pretty sad when the BBL is offering more appeal than the national team schedule).

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