The Final Exam – a Hawks fan’s hopes and dreams

February 2014

On my first day of my final year of school, I pass Mr Gilchrist (James Gilchrist to the rest of you) in the corridor. Although we’ve only been back for a few hours, his eyes are already cast downwards and forehead creased. I probably look the same. We have a chat, just the usual ‘how were the holidays?’ ‘how’s the family?’ ‘ready for year twelve?’. I admit to him that I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the year if Hawthorn try to go back to back. My examinations are only weeks after the grand final; I can’t go through a grand final and study devotedly at the same time. I jest that I almost wish that Hawthorn don’t even make finals this year, just to save me the additional stress. I say this half-heartedly though, I feel as though a 2009 repeat will destroy me even more. He laughs absently and looks at me with the tortured eyes of a Collingwood tragic. I can tell he’s thinking ‘Look at this pretentious girl. Next she’ll be demanding free cola for her journey from class to class. How am I going to make it through another year of dealing with such spoilt youths?’



My greatest fear/dream looks to be coming true. The Hawks are playing mighty well, so too are our old friends Geelong and Sydney. Essendon’s still in lawful limbo. The Demons and Saints are still petty objects of empathy. Things haven’t changed much this season.


Late August

I’m plotting the Hawks’ run to the last Saturday in September. I think we’re looking quite alright- as long as we have no scares against the Cats, and we have a near-full strength side to take into the final rounds of combat, the Hawks might be running hot come the pointy end of the season. Might have to start preparing the family with the ‘life is a long journey, full of back doors’ speech.


Qualifying Final

We’ve beaten Geelong, and quite easily at that. We can do anything. This is ours.



It’s nice having a week off. The boys’ll rest up and I’ll catch up on my studies. It’s all getting awfully close now.


Preliminary Final

My fanatical family from Adelaide come down for the match. They’re the kind of mob who think mullets are still in fashion and Radelaide is the place to be. I turn down an offer to sit in the MCC and Hawthorn members in favour of sitting with them. The last time I saw this side of the family was when Cold Chisel came to Melbourne (I wish I was kidding), so safe to say it’s been a while. They’ve managed to get me a ticket to the game- $160 later I understand why Gill’s making a fuss about meat pies and fixed pricing- and I suspect I’ll be sitting in the middle of a teal army.

I’m partly correct. Turns out the tickets are worth every penny- I’m sitting in the best seat in the house: front row opposite the centre square- and despite being the only Victorian in the row, I have a few Hawks behind me. Not as bad as I’d imagined. However what is far worse is the fact that 30 seconds before the siren, I see my family scrambling for their scarves. No, please don’t, I beg them. This is not your home game, INXS has no place on this neutral turf. Sure enough they stand up and hold their bloody scarves above their heads, waiting for the Port Power war-cry to commence. Please sit down, I implore silently. They look around, perhaps expecting Michael Hutchence to drop out of the sky and have a little sing. Thankfully the siren sounds and they return to their seats, muttering about ‘bloody Victorians’ and ‘us against the world’ and other things that I can’t quite make out.

Hawthorn Hannah

As for the game, my oh my I’ve never felt so close to dying. I shook for fifteen whole minutes after the game. Too bloody close. I think that’s the first time that footy’s made me cry from worry and fear.


Sunday night before Grand Final Week

My favourite week of the year has arrived. You can feel it in the air – everything seems brighter, fresher, happier. The weather is simply magnificent. Shame I have to spend it in exam halls all week. Maybe it might be a good thing, might keep my mind off the game. Because I tell you, I’m a bit worried about Hodgey. He looked a bit sore last week, I saw him grabbing at his hamstring. I know he’ll get through, but premierships are often awarded to the better conditioned side. I hope that we’ll be alright.



The English teachers of Victoria are obviously against the AFL. Scheduling the internal practise English exam at 9am on Friday, I can’t go to the Grand Final parade. Even more annoying than that is my English tutor (bitter Geelong supporter, thinks 2008 was daylight robbery and has taken it out on her students ever since) wants me to come to an extra class on Saturday morning. Neither are major problems, rather slight annoyances. But it has me thinking about the exam questions. Is it worth preparing a response to the prompt ‘Was Buddy right to move to Sydney? Discuss’ for my writing in the context of conflict question? How about having a quick scan of Tom Waterhouse’s website, in hope that some of his ads will be on the language analysis section? And it might be a big call, but I think it might even be worth structuring a response to the topic ‘Is Hisham Matar’s novel In the Country of Men in fact a metaphor for the AFL? Compare and contrast the two settings.’

Okay so maybe not such plausible topics, but a girl can dream…



I wake up at 5.30am, on the dot, after a horrid sleep. I was tossing and turning all night. I dreamt that I was walking down Glenferrie road, before it was built up with Ribs and Burgers and coffee shops and cinemas, but when it was just an 1800’s paddock. It was so serene. I returned home though, to see the houses surrounding mine engulfed in flames. My house was untouched however, and I had left the door unlocked.
Are these signs? Are the Hawks going to be calm, and the Swans ready to burn the house down? Are we letting them into our home too easily and they’re going to take advantage of it?

I’m not feeling good.

The weather is beautiful today. It looks like the sun has risen much before I have, the clouds all purple and air crisp. It looks like it’s going to be a perfect September day.



And perfect it just about was. I spent the day at a friend’s spit roast party, and despite being the only Hawthorn supporter in the group of 30, I was able to rope a few into sporting the yellow and brown scarf. A personal success for the day.

I don’t think anyone imagined the day unfurling like this. If you had told me in 2004 that in ten years time we would be crowned premiers thrice, with two of the wins being back-to-back, I doubt I would have believed you. Tell me that we would soon have one of the highest membership bases in the game, I would have just forced a smile and said ‘maybe one day’. If you had told me that we would be labelled a ‘champion team’, I don’t think I would have known how to react.

But it’s all true. These things have happened. We’re living the dream.

So now I suppose it is time for me to place my trust in the unknown, to instill in myself a culture of hard work and to work with a sense of sheer dedication. The Hawks have set their example; now it is my turn to work for the big prize. 2014’s a big year for us all.



About Hannah Kuhar

Netballer working in banking. Definitely unbiased Hawthorn supporter. Passionate about socio-emotional vulnerabilities and the behaviours of high performing teams. IG: Hannah Kuhar


  1. Hannah

    Love it, well done.

    Essendon in lawful limbo, great line

    Hope the exams go well


  2. Trial exams are designed to be wagged. At least they were in my day, but I never had the ?pleasure of having to choose between the exam and a GF Parade.

  3. Great reflections Hannah. I certainly was on the same worry train as you in the last 15 mins of the Prelim and through GF week. But the mighty Hawk came through. I love that you can use their achievements as a measure for your own challenges. Good luck with the Finals. You’ll be alright.

    Cheers from another very happy Hawker!

  4. Hannah – you capture all the anticipation, anxiety and relief (for good or ill) of the GF experience. (I reckon you’ve given me an idea for a story in that!)
    Loved that you left the game itself out of the story. Very creative. It heightened the sense of the experience being about much more than the game.
    You are a cert for your English exam.

  5. Peter Fuller says

    You did a fine job of conveying the sense of foreboding and anxiety that afflicts we football desperates as the season unfolds.
    Since it’s three-quarter time in your big 2014 match, I wish you well for the final quarter. Like Peter B. I think you’ll smash the opposition – the examiners – as you work your way towards the final siren.
    I habitually encouraged my students as they approached exams to follow the example of an Australian cricketer of the distant past. On the morning of a Test match in England, he reputedly approached his breakfast with relish, and announced to the team mates at his table “I feel sorry for the bowlers who I’ll be facing today.” He was dropped in the first over, but went on to make a century before lunch.
    I’m sure that you are justified in feeling equivalently confident, buoyed as you will be by your brilliant Hawks.

  6. Mr Gilchrist says

    Beautifully written Hannah. I’m proud of you. Now get back to work.

  7. Hannah I too was studying for the HSC as it was called “back then” on the eve of the 1986 grand final and your splendid essay has brought back the frustration that my teachers and parents had with my half hearted exam preparation.
    I hope your results are on par with Hawthorn’s at the Big Dance, at a guess, you’ll romp in English. Shame there’s no “Hawthorn Studies” on the curriculum, I’d have been Dux of the state.

  8. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Entertaining read , Hannah well done . How did you go in your exams ?

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