Talkin’ Hawks Blitzin Blues Blues

“Somebody said they saw me
Swinging the world by the tail
Bouncing over a white cloud.
Killing the Blues”      

John Prine

The night, the game is still a blur to me, such was the anticipation leading up to the first bounce. By the time the game got under way I was all over the shop. On the Epping train there was a mixture of supporters, hushed, reflective, anxious, metaphoric fingernails ravaged to the quick. A woman sitting across from me was telling her friend that her mother had called to see if she was going to the game. She had lied to her mother because, as she said, every time she comes with me to a game against the Hawks we get beaten. I wondered if she had been with her mother to see a Hawks vs Blues game since the fateful second semi in 1988.

At the pub across from the ground, waiting in line for a beer, two jovial Carlton supporters asked what I thought of the Buddy vs. Juddy story the media had created as a build up to the game. (Did ever a game less require a fabricated build up?) I said I thought it was stupid. The only causal link was that their names (kinda) rhyme. A better story would be the anticipated mid-field clash. Or how deep desire ran for September glory.

Philosopher, Bernard Williams, in his argument that integrity defines identity says, ‘the condition of my existence, in the sense that unless I am propelled forward by the conatus of desire, project and interest, it is unclear why I should go on at all.’ And so it was for these two sides, on this night, at this place, that we would bear witness to the bare bones of the heart of the matter. As Hamlet said, “the play’s the thing”.

Standing room. That’s the only tickets I could get. Being entrepreneurial, and decisive, my good friend Grant, he of Blues persuasion and I, having been pushed though Gate 2, stood just to the right side of the city end goals. We walked approximately 20 steps from the gate we entered to where we stood. And there we stayed the whole game. Around as wide and wild a diversity of footy fans as a fiction writer could barely imagine. So, with a cacophony of competing screams and hollers, ricocheting around this cement temple, and severely restricted sightlines causing our mob to sway, tilt and jostle, Grant and I settled in for what we hoped would be a ripsnorter of a game. And it was.

The first ten minutes was worth the price of admission, the banquet that followed, we got for free. Two scribbled notes (made before Walker finally kicked true to bring up the first goal of the match) were that it felt gladiatorial and that the Blues rushed the first couple of Hawks behinds. In a sense that set the scene for what ensured. The primal struggle to win (“the conatus of desire”) would not abate for the next two hours. And the Blues problem solving mind set was fixed on the immediate rather than, as policy wonks are want to put it, the long game. The Hawks swooped on that thinking and, for the next hour, tried in vain to kill the Blues.

So the game continued, more blurred than clear, albeit, with many a joyous moment. By half time Hawks fans were grinning like Cheshire cats gorged on roasted mice and honeyed milk. I wasn’t. In the last five minutes of the second quarter, the Blues had lifted a gear. It hadn’t translated to the scoreboard but in a couple of passages the likes of Murphy’s speed showed up the tiring Hawks.

Still, 38 points in the good at half time was, you would think, good enough. Judd was more dud than rudder (sorry … for the pun not the view) because Lewis was on fire and all over Judd’s opportunities. The absolute highlight for me was Lewis closing in on Judd deep in the Blues forward pocket, as he was about to clasp a mark that on any other day would have been a given, only to find Lewis literally steal it from him. The Hawks mid-field was winning that essential battle, led by the one and only, King Colac. Time after time, in a pressure cooker of a game, one player, Matrix like, seemed to have more time than the Theory of Relativity would permit. Hodge, forever in the shadow of Judd, due to a Draft process ten years ago, shone while Judd night darkened.

It took almost 15 minutes into the third quarter for the Blues to kick their second goal (that’s right, read it again). And then the Blues explosion finally occurred. It had been threatening to do so. When it happened the shock could be felt though the crowd. They meant business. They kicked the next three goals to reduce a 45 point deficit to 20 points at three quarter time. While the Hawks looked like the fuel gauge was in the red. You may be old enough to remember Jimmy Buffet’s record, Living and Dying in 3/4 Time. That’s how sick I felt. I had reason. I’ve seen the Hawks squander this sort of lead (I’m talking to you Crows and you too Cats, and Roos and Eagles and Bombers and, oh, I was at the game when we let the Tigers claw back a 60 point head start). We have, as they say, form.

So to the final stanza in a game that had thrown up plenty, and had me feeling like throwing up a plenty. Buddy’s forth goal steadied the nerves. It was also another Buddy classic. Outside 50, on the boundary, he scooped it up and headed, along the boundary line for goal, a Blue in hot pursuit. Now, he may have overrun 15 metres without bouncing the ball but it would have been a brave umpy who would disallow such (awkward) beauty. We cheered and took a deep breath and checked the time and then watched Garlett get the goal back for the Blues immediately. Give me a break.

The game was poised. The pressure relentless. The Blues had the run but the Hawks had the game’s measure. At season’s start, the Hawks back-line was rightfully questioned, in regard to height, pace, imagination and steely resolve. If I could, I would give the Hawks backline best on ground tonight. The Blues mid-field (rejuvenated in the second half) took control of the game but the Hawks backline kept thwarting their attacks. Gibson in particular was solid all night, but with valuable assistance from Burgoyne, Guerra, Murphy and the indomitable Burchell. In the end, the Blues didn’t have as much, measure for measure, as the Hawks have, from one end to the other. When the old Hawks fan standing next to me, wearing radio headphones, turned, with a glint in his eye and relief furrowed deep in his brow, and exclaimed, “65 seconds to go” the Hawks were 11 points up. I smiled and scribbled, “We’re home”. Then a Hawks couple started singing the team song. I whispered, “Wait for the siren”.

I reckon this is the best game the Hawks have played this year, and that includes the second time they played the Cats. The Finals beckon and we have something to prove, first to the Cats and then to the Pies. For now, it was back to the pub to relish the win and enjoy the footy community banter over a frosty or two.

Hawthorn  4.4  7.10  8.14  10.18 (78)
Carlton  1.4  1.8  5.12  8.18 (66)

Franklin 4, Smith 2, Whitecross 2, Breust 2
Carlton: Garlett 2, Walker, Simpson, Robinson, Yarran, Jamison

Lewis, Gibson, Hodge, Smith, Franklin, Hale
Carlton: Simpson, Murphy, Scotland, Carrazzo, Jamison

Gibson (left hamstring)
Carlton: Nil

Breust  substituted for Bateman during the third quarter
Carlton: Ellard substituted for Armfield during the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: C.Donlon, B.Rosebury, J.Schmitt

Crowd: 52,052 at Etihad Stadium

My Votes: Gibson (H) 3; Lewis (H) 2; Murphy (C) 1


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. John Butler says

    RK, no arguments that the Hawks should have won.

    At least Carlton saw where they have to improve.

    Enjoy the moment.

  2. I am yet to come to terms with this… that first half was a stroll back to 2006.

  3. Good game of footy hawks giving some goals result of slight injuries and structures and the blues lifting. In a supposedly finals type game being 6 goals up is a good lead and takes effort to get back. But sometimes that effort takes its toll.

  4. Beautifully written RK. Gave me a sense of how the game was played, and more importantly what it meant for both teams. Intended to watch it – but buggered by a long week at work, the temptations of ABC radio and a good red proved too much. The game is 20 minutes over on ABC radio before CH7 deign to start showing it over here in the West. The red and the bed won, but Parko and GW made it sound like a cracker. Clarkson is my coach of the year. Woosha is my coach of the millenium.

  5. Rick – I had a very short chat with Clinton Young and Stephen Gilham on Saturday. Good blokes. Very confident about September. They also reckon that whoever wins out of Geelong and Hawthorn in the first week of the finals could be Premiers – I can’t disagree.

  6. JB, the moment lasted most of the weekend. Actually, I’m still grinning.

    Litza, it’s just a game.

    Saintly, the margin was the see-saw. It had the intensity of the very best of soccer matches, where one side will score quickly and then the game is on to keep the lead by scoring again or risk being overrun.
    Hawks should have put them away in the second (3.6/0.4) but didn’t. Because the Blues were always in the hunt. That’s how much pressure there was through the game. Even when it looked bleak for the Blues, they maintained belief. Conversely, in the last 10 minutes of the Third and most of the Fourth, it was us Hawks fans who were feeling sick in the pit of our stomachs (and, at times could taste it rise).

    Peter B, thank you. While you were sipping on a good (well bodied I presume) red, I was drinking water with home-brand yeast mixed through what is laughingly call beer … and paying through the nose. Enjoy your WC Evils run through the Finals!

    Dips, you did what? How’s Gilham going? Jess, even Youngy’s going to find it tough to get back in the side now.

    Our next big game is against your mob. If we can’t crack a win this time, I don’t know what we’ll do. But there are areas we still have to lift. Previously, we’ve had that kind of lead playing the Cats only to see it over run. I hope Clarko’s got a new idea up his sleeve when we meet you next.

  7. Rick, (sorry Freddo)

    what are the chances of either the Cats or the Hawks, or both, laying a bit of physicality on them there Maggies during the finals?

    You appear to be a scholar of the game.

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