Round 13 – Hawthorn v Essendon: Ant-man over Batmania


Last weekend was a personal double-header, the Hawks and Bombers at the MCG on Saturday and, on Sunday, ‘Comic con’ in Batmania[1].


For the uninitiated, Comic con is a global, multi-genre entertainment, comic, pop-culture and fan convention, with photo and autograph opportunities.     As a parent, it is the kind of event you tell other parents you are attending for the kids, but equally it is for you and your inner Geek. If you go with a 4-year-old boy, prepare for rampant ‘wanting things’. Ultimately, I was able to talk him down from a $100 steel Captain America shield (which may be bulletproof) to a Star Wars X-wing Lego figure with Jedi pilot, at a more reasonable $15.

X Wing: Lego figure with Jedi pilot

X Wing: Lego figure with Jedi pilot


Question without notice:


“On arrival, we went through the labyrinth of passageways, while told by soothsaying officials to keep walking, past crowds, for there will be a portal to your destination ahead. After some time we arrived at a dead end, in a horde. No officials, no portal”. Am I at Comic con or the MCG?


If you answered Comic con – Buzzer – sorry, but you receive a board game and a diamond-set momento from Bruce and Walsh. Only 62,000 at the ‘G, but an earlier 1:40 bounce and many latecomers hastened a little chaos theory. Hugh and I have Basketball and Ballet on Saturday mornings, which put us in the late arrivals. Matt (a Bombers man) joined us.


As the three of us each have different types of memberships (AFL, club and nada) the only way to sit together was in General Ad.


No-one was getting into General Ad.


Thus, Hugh stayed in the AFL Members with about 50 other people, while Matt and I looked on between backs of heads.


I (partly) saw an attractive, end-to-end opening, in the manner media like to call ‘run-and-gun’. Essendon had the better of it and the scored early goals through Merrett and McKernan. They were up for this, conjuring the spirit of their coach who – according to the back page of that morning’s Age – ‘hated Hawthorn more than anyone’. As a rusted-on Hawk unfolding my morning paper and greeted with this, it was enough to exclaim ‘Sacrebleu!’ and burn the French toast.


Inaccuracy impeded their progress – the run was there, the gun misfiring – including posters to Daniher and Watson. Later, misses by Gibson and Ceglar returned the favour. Ceglar’s may be the worst I’ve seen live.

The enemy, with run and gun

The enemy, with run and gun


Hawthorn’s Paul Puopolo snapped an opportunistic first to enliven his teammates. Coming in 2015, Marvel studios will release the movie ‘Ant-man’. Paul Rudd stars as an ordinary Joe who puts on a suit and becomes the wee hero, shrinking in size but growing in strength (or so I gather from the trailer). Paul Puopolo may be Hawthorn’s Ant-man. At 173 cm, Puopolo played on the 196cm Cale Hooker and, in finishing with 4 goals, won the contest.


The 27-year-old from Hope Valley, South Australia, joined the Hawks in 2011 after four seasons at Norwood. He arrived at a time when Hawthorn was building the support cast. The name was interesting, almost entirely P’s and vowels. On the Hawthorn website, I watched footage from his Norwood days, much the same as what you see now: a tackling machine with outstanding speed and strength, a capable high-flyer and reliable kick (85 goals in 98 matches). He often gets under the guard of defenders watching the headliners.


In the 2nd quarter, officials opened the AFL Members gates, allowing Matt and I to walk over to an easily identifiable Hugh. Meanwhile, the contest remained decidedly inaccurate, but even, with three goals each. The Hawks won the quarter by a couple of points.


Half time, at the half way mark of the season, had a whiff of defining moment.


Half time. Coach Alistair Clarkson turned unsociable and demanded the Hawks do the same.

Half time. Coach Alistair Clarkson turned unsociable and demanded the Hawks do the same.

In the third, Gunston continued to miss. So often labeled the accurate one, not the case at the present time. Jack finished with 3 goals 4. If he had kicked straight this would probably be titled ‘Hawkeye[2] over Batmania’. Hill showed poise with his set shot, Hawks in control but the misses had limited the damage.


That was until consecutive goals by Puopolo, both coming from head high free kicks. Understandably this riled Essendon fans, still both decisions seemed correct. No ducking or diving and ‘He’s a short arse!’ is no defence.


Poppy kicking straight, when others were not, was decisive. Unshackled, the Hawks attacked and resistance fell away. There were further misses, but goals to Smith, Suckling and Puopolo (again) gave the Hawks a 30-point advantage at three-quarter-time.


Hawthorn opened the final quarter with Roughead and Hale releasing Breust for a classic shot across the body. The replay cut to Hird in the coach’s box, chest heaving and flushed with an air of  ‘Anywhere but here’, France or frozen in carbonite.


Back in Carbonite.

Back in Carbonite.

Langford kicked a set shot and goals were traded thereafter, including Roughead wheeling onto the left for a beauty. At the final siren, Hawthorn by 38-points. Roughead terrific with 29 disposals, Hill, Shiels and Mitchell good, but for his three third-quarter goals – impact and influence when needed – Ant-man was hero of the day.


Ant-man was hard to find, but here's The Hulk.

Ant-man was hard to find, but here’s The Hulk.


Hawthorn       2.4   5.8   11.14   16.18 (114)?

Essendon       2.5   5.7    7.8      11.10 (76) 


Hawthorn: Puopolo 4, Hill 3, Gunston 3, Suckling 2, Smith, Breust, Langford, Roughead

Essendon: Carlisle 3, J.Merrett 2, McKernan, Goddard, Melksham, Cooney, Dempsey, Daniher


Hawthorn: Roughead, Mitchell, Puopolo, Shiels, Hill, Gunston

Essendon: Z.Merrett, McKernan, Heppell, Hurley, Goddard

Our Votes:          Puopolo 3, Roughead 2, Mitchell 1

Umpires:             Stephens, Kamolins, Findlay

Official crowd:     62,500 at the MCG

[1] at the MLB Convention and Exhibition centre.

[2] Hawkeye is another Marvel character, accurate on the bow and arrow.

About Paul Campbell

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


  1. Dave Brown says

    Interesting weekend Paul. Poppy just seems to get better and better for the Hawks. He demonstrates as well as any how an unconventional player can make it these days with a ferocious desire and taste for hard work. The other team’s forward line coach had a fair bit to do with that, too. At Norwood we used him as a line breaking running defender. It has been interesting to watch his emergence as a reliable and dangerous small forward.

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