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Round 17 – Sydney v Hawthorn: The Rivalry Resumes



The Swans of Sydney and the Hawks of Hawthorn have become the fiercest of rivals. Recent history includes two Grand Finals in three years, four consecutive finals showdowns and of course, Buddy’s defection north. This year, the rivalry resumes and tonight’s latest installment once again appears to pit the champs against their main contenders.


Rivalry manifests itself in many shapes and forms, and across all walks of life. In the surprisingly savage field of the Arts, Michelangelo Caravaggio famously feuded with rival painter Giovanni Baglione in the early 1600s. Caravaggio claimed plagiarism, which led to Baglione producing a caricature of Caravaggio’s face on the body of the devil. Never one to let an insult stand, Caravaggio got revenge by distributing a series of vulgar and highly comical poems denouncing Baglione and suggesting he use his paintings as toilet paper. This feud ended in the courts, which saw Caravaggio spend a few days in the slammer.


Likewise, rivalry engulfed The Dassler Brothers of Germany, who first rose to prominence in the 1920s as the owners of the Dassler Brothers Shoe Company. Their company later splintered after they had an infamous falling out during World War II. By 1948, the Dasslers had split their business into two now-famous companies. Rudi launched Puma, while Adi started a brand named Adidas. Both businesses set up shop in the town of Herzogenaurach and began an intense rivalry. Over time, the city became fiercely divided between the two companies and people were hesitant to marry or even fraternise with people from the other side. In keeping with their feud, they were laid to rest on opposite sides of the same cemetery.


The rivalry that has developed between Sydney and Hawthorn over the past five years, has risen to such intense levels, that it is now billed as the heavyweight bout of the AFL each time these two sides meet. This week has certainly been so, and the grand old Sydney Cricket Ground is bursting at the seams, in anticipation of another classic.


Rivalry also resides on the couch tonight, as dyed-in-the-wool Hawk, Halesy has accepted an invitation to watch, and discuss. Halesy rivals my fanaticism for his footy club. As a University student, renting a house in Launceston, to consecrate the momentous occasion of the 1978 Hawks flag, he proceeded to redecorate. His bedroom wall became a brown and gold striped feature, with ‘1978 Premiers’ emblazoned across his new creation. I’m sure his landlord was thrilled.


We’re all set in the lounge room and they’re all set at the SCG, so LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!


In the red corner – weighing in with two flags in ten years – with hands that dazzle the eyes like firecrackers…. The Blood-stained Angels.


In the brown corner – weighing in with four flags in ten years – with feet that slice and dice ….The Mayblooms of East Melbourne.

Round 1 – Ding, ding.


Standing toe-to-toe, the combatants commence to the roar of 42,000 Sydneysiders screaming for the contenders. The Bloods come out swinging, buoyed by their hometown support. Early dominance sees the champs on the back foot and G. Rohan takes advantage of the bright beginning, nailing two early majors. L. Parker and J. Kennedy are leading the way in the scrapping stakes, and the early stages will be pleasing the promoters no end. Despite limited opportunities, the champs strike telling blows of their own and at the end of a thrilling opening round, the contenders enjoy an early points lead from the judges.


Round 2 – Ding, ding.


The southpaw style of the champs begins to take hold and frustrate in the second round of the bout. The usual suspects of S. Burgoyne, S. Mitchell and J. Lewis are proving slick, with their wily ring smarts appearing to confuse their opposition. Intensity drops as The Bloods start to chase leather, and the game plan of Halesy’s Hawks begins to seize control. The locals enter a state of restlessness, as this style has been seen before – it’s hard to combat. The bell sounds for the end of the round, and the champs have hit back to take a slender lead.


Meanwhile, on the couch, tension is palpable but hostilities remain low. Discussions focus on the dangers of ‘getting ahead of oneself’ in contests such as this. Halesy exudes a certain footy wisdom and I have learnt the hard way in the past. Half-time texting is now forever off the menu!


Round 3 – Ding, ding.


Our Blood-stained Angels have regrouped with a dose of the smelling salts seemingly having done the trick. Verve returns to their craft, and counterpunching becomes the tactic of choice. T. Papley has made quite an impression as a true street-fighter this year, and he energises the contenders into attack. The one-two combination of Parker and Kennedy continues to carve chances, with the defensive attributes of C. Mills again coming to the fore. G. Rohan now has four knockout blows to his name, and this one is fast becoming the heavy-hitting slugfest that many had expected.


Round 4 – Ding, ding.


This is tight. As the battle draws to a close, the home team is the clear leader on points. Commentary consists of praising the champs for their never-say-die attitude. And once again, they prove to be a formidable foe. Needing to land two uppercuts in virtually as many minutes, B. Hill bolts thirty metres without a bounce and the task is halved. When S. Mitchell hacks out a volley from mid-air that lands sixty metres along the wing, a sickening feeling of deja vu emerges deep within the collective gut of the red and white brigade. We’ve seen this before. The footy winds up with Cyril who is probably too far out to score. Or is he? The final result is like a left hook right to the jatz crackers – it’s a bloody low blow.


Battered and bruised, the contenders have proved their credentials. The champs remain so, but the gap is closing. A new breed of Blood is battling away to regain supremacy and the wholehearted efforts of our clutch of cygnets are more than enough to evoke optimism for future fights. The title will again be on the line later this year, and the red corner may just be occupied by our Blood-stained Angels once again. Let’s pray that the rivalry resumes again in September.



Joe Moore is a devoted Swan who belongs to a large like-minded flock. He lives in Hobart with his wife Kate and their young Cygnet, Ollie. He once had a kick with Derek Kickett.


About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979

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