Round 17 – Carlton v Hawthorn: One Supporter Has Been Blue since 2001

As Hawthorn extended its current steak against Carlton to 12, likewise the streak continued for the `Johnsy Curse’. Allow me to elaborate.

On a Sunday afternoon in 2001, three mates (2 Hawkers, 1 Bluebagger) ventured to the MCG to watch our teams do battle. Carlton were expected to win, and sure played like it was going to.  At three-quarter time with Carlton up by 20 points, Blues man Johnsy placed a hand on a shoulder of Hawker Cam and myself, uttering the now well-echoed phrase `don’t worry boys, at least you have tried’. Fast forward 30 minutes and Ben Dixon has slotted a goal over 13 Blues on the mark to secure victory for the Hawks by 3 points. Cam & I still swear we heard Johnsy’s heart break that afternoon.

For every catch-up at the Hawks-Blues fixture since (work and family commitments have meant a few misses), our beloved Hawks have saluted and the bitterness within Johnsy deepened. At one stage we had a collection of photos from over the years of Johnsy after the game but in anger last year, he set about deleting images while we were distracted in joyous celebrations.

We’ve had great games over the years and plenty of times the Blues have seemed on verge of victory, none more so than when Brendan Fevola found the post with only seconds left. At that game Cameron had gone the early crow when the Hawks were four goals up. I’ve watched enough horse racing to know it isn’t over until it’s over and threw a glare at Cam that could have killed. Never again has Cam celebrated early in my presence. (Although to digress, in the 2013 preliminary final after the Cats received another benefit from the umpires Cam responded to my `don’t worry, the rub of the green will turn’ with an expletive-filled question about when was the rub going to turn. Two successive premierships ease those explosive emotions).

On Friday night Johnsy had brought in back-up – his 15yo son Ky. Although less than half our age, Ky towered over all of us. Maybe he was protection as well. Although part of me did want to cry child abuse. After all, when the country-living Johnsy first took Ky to a football game it was against Hawthorn in the early 2000s and the youngster left with the scar of a 100-point plus loss. Friday night was a 138-point record – Carlton’s worst in 115 years. Ky’s lemonade after the game tasted as bitter as the beer sipped on by his dad.

After three weeks the Hawks have stamped themselves as premiership favourites, playing some awesome footy. As we found our seats in the sparse Eithad Stadium, where Level 1 seemed to be closed for spectators such was the vacancy, Cam & I pondered the possibility of a letdown. Not a loss, because top two was still on the cards, but a letdown. Johnsy foolishly plonked $10 on the Blues at $15 head-to-head. We agreed betting companies should have a response mechanism to such bets that just laugh at you, telling you to spend your money shouting your mates a beer instead.

After 10 minutes the scoreboard seemed to not be working when in fact neither team seemed bothered. Eventually the Hawks knew the wrath of Clarko would be coming and swiftly added five goals to none. An advantage of Friday night was a direct path to buy a beer or for the relief of nature. But at the start of the second quarter the emptiness and resignation of the outcome evident. From our perch on level 3, we could hear Hodge demanding, players calling (mainly Hawks) and umpires chirping. It was the same as being at any country footy venue. I expected to hear car horns.

In the end the Hawks continued to solidify its form for September and the Blues tried to experiment with an attacking game plan but were simply outclassed. Even Johnsy admired the ability of Hawthorn to just hit-up the right target and spread in style. Gunston was impressive with six goals and his work around the ground, Lewis and Mitchell dominant inside and the teamwork simply amazing. Even new recruit O’Rourke showed glimpses our future was promising.

Cam & I took another photo of Johnsy, we harmonised the song to him on the PT ride to Richmond and discussed the future of both clubs over beer and lemonade before heading home until next time we can all catch-up at the Hawks-Blues game. Long continue the `Johnsy Curse’.

Goals: Hawthorn: Gunston 6; Breust, Puopolo 3, Lewis, Schoenmakers, Rioli, Hartung, Roughead, McEvoy 2; Hodge, Hale, O’Rourke; Carlton: Everitt, Jones, Bell, Boekhorst

Best: Hawthorn: Gunston, Lewis, Gibson, Mitchell, Hartung, Birchall; Carlton: Murphy, Kreuzer

Crowd: 26 815

My votes: Gunston 3; Lewis 2; Gibson 1

About Bradley Thomas

Tried every sport, excelled at none. Enjoyed being a participant though. Among the passions are Hawthorn, thoroughbred racing, border collie Barney and of course, my wife and two sons. Love the joy of cheering a Hawthorn goal, landing a Running Double and deflating a batman's ego with slow swing bowling.


  1. It looks like it’ll be alive for a long time…

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