Round 17 – Sydney v Hawthorn: Tomorrow Never Knows

Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream
It is not dying, it is not dying
– The Beatles, Tomorrow Never Knows





First v second.
All night backwards and forwards.
Gary Rohan.
Cyril Rioli.
It’s been Rubber Soul into Pet Sounds.


We’re deep into the last.
Swans ahead.
Ahead by 1 point after S Burgoyne’s nerveless shot in open play.


And the Swans are bottling it up.
On the flank.
Forcing it wide.
As they should.


And then comes the play; the play that as it happened, appeared as a Cirque du Soleil act; as a virtuoso jazz band riff; as a collaborative work of unlikely and extraordinary individual feats; as Revolver. It was a play of individuals acting at the very margins of their capacity, acting on will and conviction and more than a little hope and chance. Keeping the music going. It was a high wire act only deemed worthy should a dozen different unlikely events all fall simultaneously into place. On the final roll of the final turn, it was Yahtzee. It was Revolver.




The ball is forced over the line again. Swans one point up. Jordan Lewis is third man up at the boundary throw in; as he has been throughout the quarter. He flicks it over his head, backwards, to what can only be a voice, or the bodyless thought of a concept plan. It is Taxman into Eleanor Rigby into I’m Only Sleeping. (Let me tell you how it will be).


As the ball falls, amid a footy field of athletes, Sam Mitchell, swaying, throws his boot at the pill and volleys it (yes, volleys it). Not just a scrubby little volley, either, but the kick travels a healthy distance down field, with characteristic parabolic arc, down field to the wing. Players hereabouts could not have expected the ball to be with them now; so unlikely has the play been to this point. It is Love You To into Here, There and Everywhere into Yellow Submarine. (You don’t get time to hang a sign on me).


And here now, onto the ball is Isaac Smith, out of Young to Temora to Cootamundra, Issac Smith; the Paul McCartney on the left, who cannot have anticipated this chance, but who is alive with it, aware of it, and now uses it with a magnificently weighted long pass to a teammate in a reasonable position on the 50, who looks well enough positioned to at least provide a contest. The ball has travelled long and far and has not been still for an instant. It is She said She Said into Good Day Sunshine into And Your Bird Can Sing. (But you don’t get me, you don’t get me).


But this player who now presents on the 50 is not just anyone. It is Cyril Rioli. And it is not just any day for Cyril Rioli. It is his birthday. Under enormous physical duress he not only provides a contest, but he actually takes the mark. Takes the mark. On 50. His team one point down. It is For No One into Doctor Robert. (Day or night he’ll be there any time at all).


The whole ground knows that this is it. This is why they’ve come. The whole footy world knows this is why they are watching. Cyril Rioli, at the very ends of his capacity to run, jump and kick a ball, to make decisions, heads back, runs in. It is Got To Get You Into My Life. (Ooh, then I suddenly see you).


And Cyril Rioli, making such sweet timing with the ball as to make it sing, connects as he was at that very moment meant to connect. He watches; we all watch; as the footy sails over outstretched arms, hands; flailing. Into the distance. Straight through. Goal. Hawks by a point. It is Tomorrow Never Knows.


So play the game “Existence” to the end…
… Of the beginning, of the beginning
Of the beginning, of the beginning
Of the beginning, of the beginning…
– The Beatles, Tomorrow Never Knows


Sydney 10.10.70
Hawthorn 11.9.75




About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Will “Revolver” be what is playing at the Espy as we wish Freddy the eyas a happy first birthday come spring? The Great DJ is still yet to decide which disc to spin

  2. Well played, e.r.
    It was a real heavyweight clash. I just love watching games like that.

    Interesting to note that I was watching a music documentary recently in which a well-known hip-hop artist stated that he believed “Tomorrow Never Knows” was ground zero for rap and hip-hop, and that it is still being referenced and sampled today.
    It is also amazing to think that the Beatles commenced a tour of the USA (their final concert tour) the day after Revolver was released, but did not play a single track off that album in their live shows. They still played all the old stuff like “I wanna hold your hand”.

  3. E.regnans says

    Graser- not running ahead of the ball there, I hope?
    The moment is all there is.
    “Turn off your mind relax & float downstream”

    Smokie – Love it. I think G Martin in the Anthology series said he was initially unsure about J Lennon’s revolutionary idea to riff on the one chord for the entire song. Tape loops and laughter, eclectic drumming, sampling; it was frontier stuff.
    On the sampling frontier – loving the Avalanches “Wildflower” this week. cheers.

  4. Dave Brown says

    Good stuff ER. That passage of play was, in this case literally, the difference between Hawthorn and other teams. No other team would attempt such an unlikely passage of play, let alone get away with it. To finish the evening with Froome running up Mont Ventoux seemed appropriately ridiculous after that.

  5. Paddy Grindlay says

    Great stuff e.r. Love the feeling of being 15 and understanding the Beatles scripture. Channel 7 would do well with discarding the hip-hop elevator garbage on the ad breaks and replacing it with some Stones or a Lennon/McCartney brilliance.

  6. Mitchell’s fluke and Bloody Cyril.
    And I thought I’d got over it.
    (OK e.r., it’s poetic and subtle and all that too)

  7. Keiran Croker says

    Still gutted ER, though it’s good to get this poetic/lyrical perspective after having to put up with the dross that passes for commentary on both Ch7 and Foxtel. You got to take your hat off to Cyril and Silk, pure class. If only we had someone, other than Buddy, who could finish like that.

  8. E.regnans says

    Understandably tough to digest, Don, Keiran.

    But at least the Swans should get another crack.

    Here’s the Revolver footage:

  9. Never ahead of things ER…indeed I am counselling circumspection. Enjoying the moment – that may be all there is.

  10. Trucker Slim says

    “Hawks by a point”. Is that a metaphor? Hawks by 5 points and a deep sigh. Both the score and metaphor.

    Love yer work Er. Welcome to Hawkporn, as the uncivilized put it.

  11. E.regnans says

    And an incredible moment it was, Graser.
    The freedom of the neutral observer grabbed me there. A rarity in Hawks games; but that’s a good indication of how I feel about Sydney.
    Taking barracking out of the equation leaves a strange kind of purity.

    Well spotted Trucker. Can’t be too literal with these things.
    *heads off to have a cold shower*

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Great game.
    I’m seriously worried now that Hawthorn will match our wonderful 4 flags in a row of 1927-1930.
    Hoping that someone, anyone, can do a Zoot version, instead of a Hawthorn Beatles version, of ‘Elanor Rigby’ in September/October. By that I mean do it better. Much better.

  13. Earl O'Neill says

    I usually play music while watching the teev game, but referring one of my Alltime Top Ten has got me thinking about art, or orange crate art, which is on the stereo now.
    Hawkporn, good line, Trucker.

  14. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Nice one ER,
    Whatever you think of Hawthorn, Cyril is one of the best things to happen to footy. He is just brilliant. Maybe some Helter-Skelter needed to prevent Hawks from equaling our 4 in a row Luke, but who is going to give it?

  15. I’ll go out on a bit of a limb and say I prefer this version.

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