Oh Cyril

As a Hawthorn supporter who owns and still listens to every Australian Crawl album, I love it every time Cyril Rioli kicks a goal and the Hawks supporters break into song with “Oh Cyril, I would do anything just to be like him”.  It’s a tongue-in-cheek take on the classic song Errol from 1981’s Sirocco, the album named after Errol Flynn’s yacht.

On Sunday afternoon, the Hawthorn faithful had plenty to sing about as Rioli booted five majors in Hawthorn’s come-from-behind win over Fremantle at the MCG.

Nobody can deny the natural talent of Rioli who, at just 21 years of age is emerging as one of Hawthorn’s all-time greats.  His silky skills, his explosive pace and an uncanny ability to read the play is well-matched by his tenacity in defence.

This was perhaps best illustrated in Rioli’s famous game-turning chase and tackle on the boundary in the 2008 Grand Final.  Cyril’s small victory over three Geelong opponents on that very sunny September afternoon illustrated for many the difference between the two sides that day.  Hawthorn simply wanted it more.

Against the Dockers on Sunday at the ‘G’ Rioli showed us that along with pace and tenacity, versatility is another one of his traits.  With full-forward Lance Franklin a late withdrawal with a calf injury, Cyril was called on to provide the Hawks with another target up forward alongside Jarryd Roughead.

And for most of the afternoon, Cyril’s performance in front of goal kept the Hawks within reach of the Dockers.

Despite Rioli’s five goals in three quarters of football, the Hawks looked unlikely.  The critics, I’m sure, had their pens at the ready with the lead “no Buddy, no Hawthorn”.

When Fremantle began the final term 18 points up, it looked almost certain to be the Dockers’ day, especially after Stephen Hill goaled in the third minute, to put the purples more than four goals clear.

But it was Hawthorn’s senior players like Hodge, Osborne, Mitchell, Roughead and Birchall who responded, the Hawks booting the next eight goals to earn them a famous victory, cementing their position in third place on the ladder.

But without Buddy, it was Cyril who led the way, providing a target for the Hawks to keep them in the match with his career-high tally.

Cyril was typically humble in victory after the match.  When asked about his performance he responded by saying with a wry smile “good to have Buddy out of the side, gave me a bit of space”.

Yep, never mind Errol Flynn, he always seemed a bit arrogant to me.  But Cyril, well, if I was playing footy, I would do anything just to be like him.

Sasha Lennon is a Brisbane-based Knacker whose writing can be found at http://sashasoapbox.blogspot.com/


  1. Rick Kane says

    Hi Sasha

    It was a great win. Early in the second quarter, I sent a text to a friend, who wasn’t at the game because he went to his neice’s first communion, with these words: “Holy communion at the G with Cyril turning water into wine”. When Freo seemed like they had taken control of the game I sent a text saying, “we’re still in it”. Last year the Hawks would have capitulated. Not this year. This is a hungrier, more confident and skilled team. And the depth! Hodge has had two great games in a row. He marshalled our Top 10 in that last quarter and it was the senior list that lifted to win the game. This was a more fulfilling win than last week against the Dogs. I’m just rambling now because I’m excited.


  2. It’s not rambling to me Rick. I share your excitement. And I agree, the Hawks are a far more reliable and determined outfit today than they were this time last year. Cheers.

  3. A great match and a great win. Thanks for your most informative and entertaining report on it Sasha.

  4. Thank you very much Frances. Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Rick – take a cold shower mate.

  6. Rick Kane says

    Hey Dips, I’m looking forward to Saturday night and hoping we give your boys a bath … it sounded wittier as I was about to type it. But you get the point – the Hawks are comin!


  7. Hey Sash, should be a doozy on Sat night – perhaps game of the season :)
    cheers, Deb

  8. Hi Deb, yes, I am looking forward to the big clash. Reading today’s paper, Buddy should be back. I hope its a bit closer than the last encounter.

  9. Rick Kane says

    Sasha, it’ll be a bigger and better encounter. I was down at Glenferrie Oval this morning. There was nothing going on, I was just enjoying the vibe. There was something in the air, you know what it smelt like? Victory. We’re 8 and 2 and I’m pretty happy with that. The boys are playing a great type of footy. The rain that’s about to sweep through Melbourne should (according to the Bureau) have cleared and the ground will be good to play on. Hawthorn are ready to go. It’ll be a cold winter Melbourne night. I’ll have the woolen beanie and a thermos of green tea to keep me warm. Come 10.30 or thereabouts, I’ll be singing our song. And then I’ll sing it again!

  10. Love the connection with Aussie Crawl – Great things come out of Melbourne – including the Hawks. Nice writing Sasha.

  11. Thanks Corbs, well said.

  12. Jonathan says

    Go Catters. Christ, I hate Hawthorn.

    This is not to detract from Cyrils consumate artistry but do it against everyone but Freo.

  13. Jonathan, I admire your passion, which reminds me, fear breeds hatred. Cheers

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