Round 4 – Hawthorn v Geelong: Hard Times Come

This essay began a week ago. At that point it was entitled, “Riding the bumps with a grimace, I mean a grin”. It included my best attempt at wrecking ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’, Kris Kristofferson lament to be being lost and lonely while the world carries on. It went like this:


Well I stared at the telly Sunday evening with no way to know my Hawks that didn’t hurt
And the six pack I’d consumed wasn’t enough so I started another for dessert
Then I fumbled around on Facebook and Twitter for not even one positive alert
I thought I’ve got nothing to lose so I tuned into Willesee play God’s detective on Sunday


I’d stewed my mind for two full hours with reality and hallucinations I’d been seeing
Was that the Brown and Gold out there or was it a future that was a fleeing
Then I looked out my window and caught the sight of kick to kick in the street ‘nd
It took me back to something I’d lost somewhere, somehow along the way


On a Sunday evening of Round Three
I’m wishing the Lord our sins atone
Cause there’s something ‘bout this Sunday
That makes this Hawker feel alone
And there’s nothing short of dying
That’s half as lonesome as the sound
Of other AFL team fans laughing
And this Sunday evening that’s just gone down




Anyway, apparently a week is a long time in football.


When interviewed through the week in response to the Hawks extremely poor and uncharacteristic start to the 2017 season Clarko said that “hard times come and hard times go”, quoting lines from Springsteen’s ‘Wrecking Ball’.


Then the Hawks got done like a dinner by the archest of their arch rivals. By their White Whale, their Moriarty, their Newman.


In the last quarter, as the sun descended, creating a brilliant crimson fused with saffron sky the Cats with blood in their eye and carnage their one desire, ripped the barely beating heart out of my stunned, sluggish, enervated Hawks. Eleven goals straight. It hailed goals. The Cats rammed their V8 into our hapless, helpless, hopeless Cortina in a demolition derby that made “the horror, the horror” of Colonel Kurtz seem like a playground squabble. It felt like the Cats were delivering the final verdict on the Hawks for the rest of the footy fraternity. Or as one wag posted on my Facebook page, “You do know that a sizeable portion of Australia is schadenfreuding so hard right now?” This was followed by another: “There is a god”.




So, what to make of season 2017 for the Hawks? Can it get worse? Where does the fault lie? How deep does our trust for Clarko’s way go? What exactly did we lose with Mitch and Lewis and Hill? One thing we definitely are lacking is a toughness, a commitment to put your body on the line to get the ball. Another thing is football intelligence/intellect. And leg speed. The Cats had outside runners everywhere. The Hawks looked like they left it to the midfielders to push on through. And Hodge. Man did he play his frickin heart out. Took hit after hit and just kept on. If the team can’t take something from his efforts on Monday then this very long year we are set to endure will hardly be worth it.


This is what Clarko said following the game:


“If me or we as a club are guilty of having confidence in our group then that’s a good guilt that I sit with, because it is the only way forward for us: to look at our group and understand they have significant capabilities and we’ll find a way…” Clarkson said.


“This is the most significant down we’ve had for a long time as a footy club. Whether it’s our supporters, our members, coaches, admin people, players – we’ve all got to band together and fight our way through what’s a pretty tough time for our club.”


I’m cool with that. If you’ve followed the Hawks a long time you know that the last ten years, as great as it has been followed 18 years in the lower reaches of the Ladder, either fighting with the Tigers for ninth spot or worse.


Losing stings. Losing by 80 points hurts. Losing to the Cats by such a margin is a sucker punch. There was a bewildered silence on the South Morang train last night. Everyone was trying to make sense of things. It was too hard to do.




Hard times come indeed. The line pre-dates Springsteen by 150 years. It stems from a Stephen Foster song called ‘Hard Times Come Again No More’. You would know the song even if you think you don’t. It has been covered so often (including recently by Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen on their album, ‘Death’s Dateless Night’) and used in films and TV shows.


Foster’s song is a lament for the poor and struggling. The song attempts to reach out to those better off to consider and care for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. I don’t think I’ll bother offering that song’s theme to non-Hawks fans in our hour of need.


A better idea would be to listen to Springsteen’s ‘Wrecking Ball’, with the lines, “hard times come and hard times go”. The song was originally written to commemorate the demolition of the Giants stadium but holds a metaphor that goes well beyond that singular event. People who have seen Springsteen live know how well this song plays at his concerts.


The lines, “hard times come and hard times go” form a refrain that Springsteen and crowd repeat continuously until it pulsates like a heart growing stronger and stronger and a body is reformed from the communal chant that culminates with the defiant call to arms, “bring on your wrecking ball”. If it takes the Hawks one year or three or even twenty so be it. We are fallen now. On our knees. But we will reform and we will get stronger and we will be back.

About Rick Kane

Up in the mornin', out on the job Work like the devil for my pay But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do But roll around Heaven all day


  1. The Hawks remind me of the bombers when Sheedy gave Peter Bradbury and Steven Carey the boot to recruit Geoff Raines and Stephen Richardson ( I think ) he admitted it was his biggest mistake and ripped the soul out of the club also the Hodge bit round 1 we no how much of this game is played upstairs win round 1 and things may have been v v different at the moment the winner is the saints entertains read,Trucker Slim !

  2. Old mate this game was the only thing that sustained me as I crawled home down the Western Highway from Stawell on Easter Monday afternoon. A bone head at Vic Roads had decided that a 100m long section of road work was necessary over the Easter break. The traffic carnage was 10kms long. A two-and-a-half hour trip became four-and-a-half. BUT, Kate and I sat in the traffic and listened to the Cats demolish a disappointing Hawthorn. In a really weird sort of way it was disappointing because we’ve become so used to the pulsating finishes.

    I can’t deny it. I enjoyed it immensely.

  3. I am struggling to believe how bad the Hawks have been the last few weeks (hope it continues for one more week). As Clarko said after – there were 8 All Australians in the team that phoned it in after half time on Monday!
    Clarko’s trades make logical/strategic sense – but somehow a footy team (or any group of people) is more than the sum of its parts. I keep thinking that the trades have proved sort of Faustian bargain/deal with the devil for Hawthorn.
    A man needs a new pair of legs and so he trades in his heart (Lewis) and brain (Mitchell) to get them.
    How’s that working out for you?
    Still – you need to measure these things over 4 years – not 4 weeks. Simpson (a Clarko protégé) often sticks with “project players” that he has seen something in – but who need time and experience. I just tell the Avenging Eagle that I “believe in Simmo and he’s much smarter than me”.
    Time will tell.
    Hope it’s not raining on Sunday, Rick – I reckon my Weagles struggle with the wet more than the MCG.

  4. Punxsu and the rest of Peter says

    Rick, I wonder if the Mitchell and Lewis business has destabilized things down at Glenferrie? Just incredible how much they’ve dropped off, so you can’t help but speculate that all is not well. Excellent piece as usual and you take your medicine well.

  5. Trucker Slim says

    Hi Rulebook, not sure that I’d draw that comparison. But to the impact re losing Mitch and Lewis, that is the question. Is it the soul or is it that the replacements will just need time to stabilise. I think it is a mixture. In this era how much time do clubs allow to rebuild? In this case it is rebuilding the skills etc but also our raison d’etre.

    Hi Dips, I bet you did! I don’t think I could have lasted being stuck in traffic that long listening to the Hawks go down like that. Not that I would have heard the Hawks mentioned much especially in the last quarter.

    Our son’s friend came 4th in the U17s Boys 100m at Stawell this year. I have not appreciated just how big the whole weekend is. We were so happy for him.

    PB, you’re struggling? I’m convulsing. Yes, it’s difficult. The first signs of what we are looking at actually occurred last year when GWS beat us up. It’s just taken this long for it to be official. I think the deal had to be done. If they had stayed another year we would have just been putting off the inevitable. The Byrds Turn, Turn, Turn is stuck in my mind. And I just hope we show up against your lot.

    Punxsu (if indeed that is your real name) I think we can hang out the shingle, ‘This place is destabilised’ for sure. But remember in 2010 we were 1 and 6 at Round 7. We beat the Tiges by 3 points in the 8th Round and went on to play Finals. So, all is not … (oh, why do I bother). Cheers

  6. John Butler says

    Trucker, a couple of observations re Hawks.

    I thought the off-season moves were an expression of a club that still had tremendous ambition. That wasn’t prepared to rest on its considerable laurels. That’s cause for hope. Of course, that’s also no guarantee that they made the right calls.

    The Hawks never had much leg speed. Losing Hill hasn’t helped that, but it really shouldn’t have been terminal.

    Fast ball movement was their key. Making space, hitting targets. The problem with T Mitchell and O’Meara at present is they don’t hit targets as reliably.Throw in either Hartung or Langford to replace Hill, and the kicking balance of the side is shifted. Also the decision making balance. Once you start giving the ball away, you have a problem, because you were never the greatest at winning contested ball. You set up to make the opposition give the ball up to you. That doesn’t work if you give it away first.

    So the team is experiencing the shock of adjustment. That can encourage other symptoms if it persists.

    We’re about to see how many other strings Clarko has left to the bow.

  7. E.regnans says

    Bold list management, short term pain/long term gain, beat the system, etc etc…
    Everyone gets a turn to have it blow up in their face.
    Love it Rick.

  8. RK – it doesn’t help that Ty Vickery is playing for the brown and gold. If he played on Easter Monday you would have lost by 96.

  9. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    That description of the final quarter is superb, Rick. I’d like to hear it spoken word.
    And comments are grand.

    While I’ve struggled to feel anything gushing for your Hawks in the past decade, Rick, I am not wholly schadenfreuding. I am compassioning … and empathying … a little bit.

  10. Hey, I saw Clarko at the Thursday Bruce Springsteen concert in Melbourne….

    Love that song…
    Hard times come and hard times go
    And hard times come and hard times go
    And hard times come and hard times go
    And hard times come and hard times go
    And hard times come and hard times go

  11. Grant Fraser says

    Trucker – one team has won a premiership every decade for the past 50 years. We have about 12 years…but we WILL do it. Oh yes, we will. Come what may, you’ll find us striving. #Always

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