Round 17 – Sydney v Hawthorn: Houdini Hawks Do It Again



Oh Cyril.


For once, you magnificent creature, for just a second, could you please stop.


Don’t mark that ball. Don’t kick that ball.


Just once, Cyril. That’s all I ask.


Oh Cyril.


Cyril, the magician you are, please show some inkling of doubtfulness. Please recognise that fifty metres is too far. Put away that magic wand, Cyril, and pass it off. Kick it to a contest. Do not kick a goal.




The Hawthorn juggernaut, that terrible monster that is the Mayblooms, has done it again. They have scraped past yet another worthy challenger, pulling a glorious victory out of the hat. Ever since the poo-and-wee steamroller employed Harry Houdini as their development coach, these rather vexing assassins have mastered the art of escaping underwater barrels to the raucous applause of enthralled onlookers.


There is a growing number of onlookers, however, who just want the trick to go wrong.


Throughout the performance, their collective caterwauling echoes around the mystical barrel. They become excited when the absence of the grinning magicians becomes more profound, as the remaining onlookers become doubtful, an inkling of ice water becoming present in their spines.


But it was not to be. Every single time, the Houdini Hawks rise victoriously from the barrel. Everyone goes home happy. The angry few mutter mutinously under their heated breath.


Hawks Sicily, Puopolo (twice) and now Rioli have all made that impossible escape in the dying minutes of the game. The Dogs, Crows, Roos and of course the newly vanquished Swans have all fell victim to that final act of trickery, the dagger that comes so late in the game. Many pillows have been clobbered by angry fans, many remotes flung violently to the unyielding tiled floor.


The Hawks have dominated the September screens for too long. Their dominance was expected to, finally, diminish into the lower echelon of the ladder. But no. These Hawks have seen it all before, having learned from the crafty Cats that refused to take their pension and instead provided a constant nuisance throughout the footy season.


And with such congestion atop the ladder, these unbearably slight wins have such a gargantuan impact on the rest of the competition.


So to the game then. It was dominated, for three quarters of the game, by the Swans. In their house with over 40 000 spectators donned in the red and white, they played a contested brand of football that didn’t allow Hawthorn’s damaging flankers and wingers to savage the unprotected underbelly of their opponents. The runners gathered their possessions but were well marked by the Bloods – Smith and Hill weren’t able to find the space to dash in the confines of the SCG.


Buddy was kept out of the game by an omnipresent Chip Frawley, but speedy redhead Gary Rohan provided four goals for the Bloods. Through the interior grunt work of Parker and Friends, the Swans skipped away in the first stanza.


The angry onlookers stood up.


“Die, goddamn you!” came the cry from the stands.


The grinning beasts lowered themselves into the barrel. Locks were turned. A guttural roar of anticipation echoed through the SCG. There were more of those who wanted the magicians to drown then ever before.


Hawthorn surged back at the Bloods as the second quarter began. The minuscule forwards from Glenferrie began exerting their influence, as Puopolo and Rioli kicked improbable goals. Cyril even stood on someone’s head, but his kick was wayward. With a two goal deficit in the books, the Hawks looked the goods.


Gary Rohan’s third quarter dragged the Swans back into the game.


Tom Papley had been busy but ineffective throughout the game, but kicked an important goal to start the second half. Rohan then announced himself, kicking his third and fourth from fifty metres out, to the elation of the O’Reilly Stand. The momentum was with the Swans, but Gisborne boy Jono O’Rourke nabbed a goal after the three quarter time siren to cut Sydney’s lead to just a single kick.


Houdini was taking a very long time to emerge from the barrel. Lips were bitten, fingernails frayed. The pro-Swans audience swayed with the raw energy of those who hate everything to do with the yellow and brown.


The final act of the game teetered on the edge of a knife until the last gasp. A converted fifty metre penalty to Jon Ceglar gave the Hawks a one-point lead, but Papley replied instantly, sending Luke Hodge stumbling and booting a magnificent goal.


Houdini’s Hawks looked just about cooked as the Bloods peppered the goal face. The “handy point” was achieved by Kizza Jack. Eight minutes remained.


Burgoyne, an older head in an ageing side, gathered the footy at fifty. Showing remarkable composure, he trotted in and slotted Hawthorn’s tenth. The Sydney lead was at one point.


“Why won’t you just die?” lamented the crowd.


And then…




Oh boy wowee.


Isaac Smith’s mongrel punt fell onto the chest of Rioli at fifty. Surely he can’t kick it that far, footy gods?


It’s his birthday, they shrugged back.


Cyril potted his second, with a minute on the clock.


The Houdini Hawks, yet again, emerged from their would-be-tombs.



SYDNEY SWANS      4.4    4.5    8.6    10.10  (70)
HAWTHORN             3.1    6.4    7.7     11.9   (75) 


Sydney Swans: Rohan 4, Papley 2, Towers, Kennedy, Sinclair, Parker
Hawthorn: Rioli 2, Gunston 2, Burgoyne 2, Lewis, Hill, Puopolo, O’Rourke, Ceglar


Sydney Swans: Rohan, Parker, Kennedy, T.Mitchell, Grundy, Naismith, Mills.
Hawthorn: Burgoyne, S.Mitchell, Lewis, Rioli, Gunston, Gibson, Puopolo.




3: G.Rohan (Sydney).

2: L.Parker (Sydney).

1: S.Burgoyne (Hawthorn).


About Paddy Grindlay

Paddy is new to the city and thinks it's all a bit much at the moment. He's studying at RMIT University and can be found 'round the traps.


  1. Earl O'Neill says

    Great read, Paddy, thanx.
    Why was Kieran Jack pinged for standing the mark? (Rulebook, it’s time for your solo)

  2. Trucker Slim says

    Great write up Paddy. As a Hawker this win was pretty spec. Cyril has given us so many surprises through the years it’s a wonder that we are still bowled over by what he does. And yet we are. Here’s hoping we have one more trick up our sleeve!


  3. E.regnans says

    Love it Paddy.
    What a story.

    There was magic at work; I’m sure of it.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Earl it was a correct decision if he had stayed standing the mark he would have been fine but the swans switched that aspect over and Jack then moved in to the restricted 10 metre area while I have been disgusted at the standard of umpiring and felt strongly enough to write but in this case it was dumb dumb by Jack as I commented earlier in the year when,Seedsman gave away a similar,50 and due to publicity the crows finally did a exam on this area and Seedsman admitted he didn’t understand the rule fully.
    I find it completely amazing and incompetent the lack of of time and study put in by clubs on this vital aspect of the game

  5. Rah rah Hawksputin
    Brown and gold,
    We wear a grin
    (at Hawthorn)

  6. Wonderful account of an amazing game. You put light and shade and excitement into every word. Well done Hawks and you too Paddy.

  7. They sure did!

  8. Don having read,Christians comments I think there shows a lot of the problems of umpiring in a rules committee getting involved for the sake of it and not really understanding there role it was given by the umpiring fraternity as afterwards as a correct decision personally I thought it was clearly a 50.
    Long mires comments are so classic of a footballer turned coach I would love to no whether he or the swans have ever done a exam on the rules
    ( Christian above is commenting on the spirit of the lrule not actually the rule itself which is a huge difference )

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