Hold Your Horses

I’m excited. How could I not be? I’ve just witnessed three of the most impressive weeks of footy by the Hawks that I can remember. That memory stretches back past the halcyon days of the 1980s. Back in the ‘80s one of the most exhilarating sights (terrifying, I guess, if you barracked for the opposition) was watching the mighty Hawks surge down the field, like soldiers, in a rank formation, towards another inevitable goal.

Hawthorn seem to have hit their straps. They’re playing jaw-droppingly good footy. Across the ground. With players on the sidelines, as good as those on the field, itching to get back into the fray. Of course I’m excited. But something deep down in my craw tells me to hang on. Hold your horses.

Just as a swallow does not a summer make, July victories do not a Premiership make. They might confirm that a team is on target to do well in September but that’s about all. There are other sides doing equally as well (the Eagles) and there are sides who might be sliding (the Swans), as there are sides who might be in a slight form slump but you know they’ll be back, and more focussed (the Dockers). There are outsiders, who but for a run of consistency may well provide a scare or two come Spring-time.

With what the Hawks have handed out in the last three games it’s easy to jump right on the cheering bandwagon. Let’s consider these games from another vantage point. In Launceston three weeks ago the Hawks carved the Dockers up. Maybe. Or maybe Lyon accepted defeat by half time and ran the game out. There was nothing to prove. It’s the Hawks stronghold after-all. Next time they meet it’s hard to imagine Freo will serve up the same hash of a game.

Sydney are another thing altogether. Either Hawthorn are in another league to the Swans or there is something rotten in the state of the Swans. Peter B made a similar observation in his write up of the Eagles win. He said, “This is more than a loss of form. This is a loss of effort from blokes who I really rate. The Bloods are duds. There is something wrong inside the change rooms that goes well beyond ‘form’.” Methinks so too. I don’t think we should over-calculate the Hawks win against the Swans.

The Blues got hit by a cyclone. The most impressive stat from that destruction was that the average number of games played per player by Hawthorn is 140, for the Blues it is 70. We played a team still learning how to hold the footy let alone pass it out of trouble. That’s about all you could deduce of the Hawks Premiership potential from that game.

That’s not to say the Hawks aren’t in with a real chance. This year everyone is frothing at the bit about the ultra-defensive style of footy being played. In that argument the Eagles and the Hawks stand head and shoulders above the rest, proving the only footy that won’t go out of style is attacking footy. As at Round 17, the Eagles have scored 100 points (or more) in a game 9 times. Their opposition? Once. How many times the Hawks? Eleven times. Their opposition? Once. To put that in perspective, Freo are 5/1, Sydney are 3/2, Richmond are 3/2 and the Bulldogs are 4/4. Outside the likely Premiership contenders only Collingwood come close with 7/4.

To add to that perspective, by the same Round in 2014 the Hawks were 11/3. Sydney were 8/0. Then, in Round 18 last year the Hawks, in their win against the Swans at the MCG, became the first opposition to kick more than 100 points against them. The other Premiership hopeful last year was Port Adelaide. As of Round 17 2014 they had recorded 9 one hundred or more point games. Their opposition? One.

The Hawks play well in the Finals. However, in the last 4 years have been taken to the wire in each Preliminary. The Pies beat them in 2011 by three miserly points. In 2012 the Hawks beat the Crows by less than a goal. The Hawks clawed back a 25 point lead established by the Cats in the final quarter of the 2013 Prelim and only just won. Last year Port gave the Hawks a series of heart attacks as they stormed to an almost unlikely victory but the Hawks held on by 3 points. These games have been played at the MCG. These games tell us that it is not an easy road to the last Saturday in September. For anybody.

I’m excited. When your team is smashing it, skilled as, and the load is so evenly shared it’s hard to keep a lid on it. The word is that the next couple of games should really tell us just how good the Hawks are. I reckon the four games after that are equally as important. The Hawks need to keep winning because they need the home ground advantage come September as well as the shot at a week’s rest. If all that happens then I’ll relax … a little. Until then, hold your horses.

About Rick Kane

Up in the mornin', out on the job Work like the devil for my pay But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do But roll around Heaven all day


  1. RK – I’ll come clean. I didn’t read this. Just couldn’t bring myself to. But the Hawks look home this year. Its going to be a very tough 2015 Almanac book launch later in the year.

  2. John Butler says

    Who are you trying to kid TS?

    It’s in the bag! :)

  3. Steve Hodder says

    Trucker Slim,

    what’s Frawley’s inclusion (for surely they will include him) do to the back line’s balance and awareness of each other? What if Mitchell and Hodge don’t fire between half back and half forward? Which ruck combo? Who pushes back in – Duryea, Langford, Spangher? Will Simpkin ever get another chance? Now that Roughy and Gunston are kicking goals I feel better about the forward line but so many questions and so few home and aways to sort them out. Think I prefer the finals now!


  4. Grant Fraser says

    Dips – we all know what you are up to…. No mozzing!

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    C,mon Slim,
    you’re already thinking about equaling our proud 4 in a row in 2016! Seriously and begrudgingly, Hawthorn are playing the best football I’ve seen since the 88-89 teams. Only injury will stop you I’m afraid.

  6. I am only afraid of one team. I call Adam Simpson “Clarko Lite” because of how he has adopted/adapted so many Hawthorn strategies to my Eagles. I think we can match or better (Nic Nait) you in most areas, but I reckon your kicking and disposal efficiency is much better than ours. Break even for midfield possession and you could cut up our “zone off and rebound” defence with your precision kicking.
    Mind you we have a few secret weapons up our sleeves.
    Hawks may play unsociable football, but we have the unsociable supporters.
    Any chance we could boo Rioli, Burgoyne and Hill into retirement by September?

  7. Paul Campbell says

    Sage and a premonitory, Rick. On my way there, if a reasonable man on the MCG tram said Hawthorn will cobble together 7 goals. I would have replied, ‘In which quarter?’

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