Round 1 – Hawthorn v Geelong MCG: The following takes place in the 8 days, between cricket and football seasons.

 

 “Round 1, just trying to get organized… A round One AFL game is lickety split the whole time…”

 

Matthew Pavlich, interviewed at half time of the Fremantle v Port Adelaide game, Sunday April 5 (Fox Footy)

 

Lickety split round, a magical time of year – righteous tribalism, radiant hopes on faces and T-shirts in milder weather – whether it is magic to believe in we are some way off knowing.

 

Sunday 29 March: World Cup and Pompey.

 

My lead-in was the World Cup Cricket Final – a 5-day turnaround between cricket and football seasons this year, 8 if you’re a Hawk – I was lucky enough to go when Damon (a friend / Queenslander) dealt a ticket my way. I threw off the sub vest.

 

I’m not a keen cricket fan, but have always thought it’s good for conversation. Among the group was Phil – a former Englishman now happily immigrated to Australia (Queensland). Phil arrived 30 years ago to stay for a year, married his then-girlfriend and has been here ever since.

 

We discussed our consuming obsessions. Mine needs no mentioning. Phil’s is Portsmouth F.C, currently battling away in the fourth tier of English football. Phil began by informing if you do a Google search of Portsmouth FC you will likely be greeted by an image of a man called ‘John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood’ (he changed his name by deed poll), JPFCW is an antique book dealer by day and Portsmouth’s most famous fan by game day. Well inked with Portsmouth tattoos, he is renowned for ringing a bell during matches.

 

Phil told me of Portsmouth’s history as an important Naval Port and how the team was a powerhouse around the time of the Second World War. They have the distinction of holding the FA cup for the longest period. After winning in 1939, it wasn’t contested again until 1945-46 due to the War. Their nickname: the ‘Pompeys”. When I inquired after it, Phil thought it was either an abbreviated Naval code that had stuck or shorthand for Pomp and Ceremony (also Naval). Portsmouth last won the F.A cup in 2007-2008 and a few years later were run to near financial ruin. So began the long drop.

 

We are both fans of Nick Hornby’s ‘Fever Pitch’. Phil repeated his favorite line from the ‘movie’, a scene when Paul Ashworth (based on ‘Hornby’, played by Colin Firth) is on a date with new-girlfriend Sarah. After some time of hearing about Arsenal, Sarah asks, “What do you do between May and August? (the off-Season). He answers, “Sit around drinking and feeling miserable”.

 

I don’t think Phil had seen Portsmouth live for 30 years, but you could see the light in his eyes. He follows them by online feeds (audio or typed) and added that fans around the corner from Fratton Park don’t get a telecast of games.

 

Phil returns annually, for a week, to visit family. People from Portsmouth tend to stay in Portsmouth. Wondrous sounding pubs. One of his sons, now grown up, wants to live in England. Phil is thinking about it.

 

In the end, I agreed to make Portsmouth my team in fourth division and was hawking the Hawks to Phil, who has not been to an AFL game. Unhappily, Damon had touted the Blues. It will be settled when Phil and Damon return for Hawthorn v. Carlton at the MCG – the ‘Phil Cup’ – he will go with the winner.

 

Damon and I discussed the fast approaching football season.

“How do you think Carlton will go this year?” he began.

I shrugged, “ What do you think, finals?”

“I think Premiers.”

Silence, from which he might have inferred doubt.

“What’s the difference between Carlton and Hawthorn?” he continued.

 

And shortly after;

“You won last year, right?” he asked straight faced.

“You were there! We all watched Ed Sheeran.”

“Right.” He nodded.

Pause.

“Was it close or did you win by a bit?”

He knew I could act out every play, in a one-man show at Chapel off Chapel.

 

As Australia began to dominate the Final, Damon uttered, “Come on New Zealand, make it interesting.”

“You’re all about ‘the interesting’, aren’t you?” I asked.

“You’re all about ‘the winning’, aren’t you?” he countered.

Got me again.

 

In any event, great win by the Australians, if not universally interesting.

 

Thursday 2 April

Thursday night, pure grey sky and football people on streets. This is Melbourne. Recall what Horne wrote about Melbourne, football helps us make the adjustment to life without sunlight[1]. Leaving work, a colleague (Melbourne supporter) remarks he’s looking forward to Jesse Hogan on Saturday. Later tonight, Tigers conquer the Blues.

 

Sunday 5 April

Reprise my role of Rabbit, secreting eggs in garden. 6:00am in Melbourne: chilly.

 

Hawthorn in 2015:

“It won’t always be like this.”

 Stuart Macintyre’s cautionary words to his 10-year-old daughter after Hawthorn’s 1986 premiership win: “Australia’s Game: Stories, Essays, Verse & Drama inspired by the Australian Game of Football (2013 Slattery media Group)

 

“Whatever you do, son. Don’t be the best in town, just be the best until the best come around.”

 Buddy Guy, in the documentary “Sonic Highways” (2014)

 

“I love the club, I love the culture, I have some great mates here and I think we have a lot of things left to achieve…. so hopefully between now and the end of 2019 we can be there on that last Saturday in September a few more times”

Liam Shiels in the Age, Saturday April 4, 2014 (Quayle. W, “Leading Hawks sign on’).

 

It had been a busy summer, work and family, no time to think of football really. What you need to do is ‘make time’, Hawthorn usually cross my mind in my morning shower.

 

History and the odds are against ‘3-peating’. We’ve had a great run. The competition will come. Still, the mind wanders, speculates, could there be more? “In the midnight shower, he cried more, more, more.”

 

 Easter Monday, 6 April: Hawthorn v Geelong.

 

Hugh and I had never enjoyed Easter Monday win over the Cats. As I wrote last September, there’s so much modern history between Hawthorn and Geelong and no lack of feeling. Discussing the rivalry with a neutral, he looked at me blankly and said, “You’re both palatable. It’s like Sweden hating Denmark”.

 

Matt Spangher pulled a cord and last year’s flag danced down a wire. 2015 began at 3:20. At 3:20 and 5 seconds, Hodge ran into Guthrie. Hawthorn meant business. Poppy had the first and Roughead rolled onto his left for our second.

 

Following this, Hawthorn’s accuracy ebbed. Geelong won possession in the back half and headed for space and overlap, Clark on the end.

 

Gunston’s evasion was smooth, but not his finish, Roughead’s tackle and goal made amends, but best of the quarter was Motlop; making the difficult look easy.

 

Standing in line for a cleanser, knew we should have been six straight.

 

In the 2nd quarter, Hawthorn turned up the heat, the footy was almost entirely in our half. Lewis found Mitchell, Rioli marked deep and Gunston did Motlop in the air.

 

Cyril’s remarkable gather and handball set up Luke Breust. On the replay, Leigh Matthews referred to his ‘hands faster than the eye’.

 

Half time: Hawthorn by 28-points. Having never won on Easter Monday, we would only discuss our Bunnings projects.

 

After the break, Hawthorn maintained the rage and got even hotter. Poppy, who normally flies under the radar, flew over it. After a fantastic mark and goal for himself, he assisted Breust.

 

Midway in the 3rd, Motlop marked and lined up to an eerie silence. It was over. Hugh and I could not remember getting a hold of them like this. Raging bull Roughead charged in for his 3rd and the Hawks were over 100.

 

Even though the last quarter was a non-event, Hawthorn fired on all cylinders today. Possession, passing and pressure on the opposition delivered big Easter Monday chocolates.

 

 

Hawthorn        3.3      9.7      16.13      17.21    (123)?

Geelong          4.3      5.3      6.6        8.13      (61)

Goals  Hawthorn: Breust 5, Roughead 3, Puopolo 3, McEvoy 2, Mitchell, Rioli, Gunston, Anderson

Geelong: Clark 3, Hawkins 2, Motlop, Caddy, Bews.

Best    Hawthorn: Lewis, Breust , Puopolo, Roughead, Burgoynne, Hodge, Gibson.

Geelong: Motlop, Biclavs, Bartel, Stokes.

Umpires          Stevic, Hay, Pannell,

Crowd 73,584

Our votes :     Lewis (Haw.) 3, Breust (Haw.) 2, Puopolo (Haw.) 1.

[1] Horne, D. “The Lucky Country” 1964. Penguin Books.

About Paul Campbell

Lawyer, left footer. Loves the Hawks and follows a few U.S sports.

Comments

  1. Lovely reflective musings. Much less insufferable than other Hawks triumphalism. Definitely worth suffering. Thanks.

  2. Grant Fraser says

    “Half time: Hawthorn by 28-points. Having never won on Easter Monday, we would only discuss our Bunnings projects.”

    Brilliant.

  3. Rick Kane says

    Great stuff PC and yes Grant, that line is a beauty. My fave was: He knew I could act out every play, in a one-man show at Chapel off Chapel.

    Cheers for a very happy (if insufferable) Hawker

  4. aussie80s says

    “In the midnight shower, he cried more, more, more.” If Billy Idol had known about Hawthorn he would have used these lyrics.

Leave a Comment

*