The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 2 – Hawthorn v Melbourne: Do we go backwards or straight down the guts?

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on Follow the season!


Hawthorn versus Melbourne
Monday, April 9
Melbourne Cricket Ground

by Adam McNicol


THERE WAS A BIG QUESTION TO BE ANSWERED at the MCG on a sunny Easter Monday afternoon: did this group of Hawthorn footballers, full-time professional sportsmen, guided by a bevy of full-time professional coaches, really spend their entire pre-season developing a game plan that made scoring almost impossible?


In Round 1 against Brisbane at the Gabba the Hawks had nearly 400 possessions, yet managed just six goals, four of which were scored in the last quarter. That evening as the Lions extended their lead they deepened their flood. It was ridiculous.


Maybe you have to boot 150 kicks backwards to take a giant leap forward? I headed to the MCG for the game against the Demons, themselves coming off a very ordinary loss to St Kilda, to find out.


My fiancée, The Lovely Zara (TLZ), came along. As I had forgotten my trusty radio, she stepped into the special comments role. We sat in top deck of the Members’ Reserve where despite the 27-degree day a fair number of Dees barrackers had gathered, having cut short their holidays at Portsea.


Melbourne went into the match without Adem Yze who was axed after an extraordinary 226 games in a row, but welcomed back key defender Jared Rivers. The Hawks were boosted by the return of Shane Crawford, who had opted out of the trip to Brisbane – because he could.


In a sign of the times, the Hawthorn supporters were smiling before the opening bounce. Four of their players – Franklin, Williams, Boyle and Young – walked inside the attacking fifty. And stayed there.


This revolutionary tactic paid immediate dividends. Boyle took a screamer 35 metres out and kicked a goal. Melbourne skipper David Neitz levelled the scores soon after and the Hawks, auto-spooked, decided it was time to send an extra 12 men into the backline.


“There’s no-one inside the fifty. Do they think they’ve lost it already?” said TLZ, as Trent Croad had no option but to kick to a seagull on the forward flank. “How are they going to score?”


Melbourne duly ignored the flood and piled on three in a row, the last a long bomb from Brent Moloney.


“There’s some Hawthorn people over there and they look very annoyed with that goal,” said the six-year-old Hawks supporter (well hair-gelled) sitting in front of us to his annoyed father. “They look very angry with that goal.”


But when Neitz hobbled from the field with a knee injury, Hawks coach Alistair Clarkson suddenly had a brilliant idea. He pushed a few blokes inside fifty.


“This is encouraging,” said TLZ as she looked up from the Footy Record to see Ben Dixon mark 40 metres out. His goal trimmed the Dees’ lead to 13 points at the first change.


For the rest of the match, to the delight of the crowd, the players lined up just like it says they should in the Footy Record. It made for a highly entertaining spectacle, especially for Hawthorn fans, who hit their highest notes whenever Franklin went near the ball. The explosive forward runs like Chris Judd, only he’s 195 centimetres.


In the second and third quarters, the Hawks managed to keep Franklin and their other forwards in the forward line. They also booted 13 goals to six, and at one stage led by 42 points.


Much-maligned ruckmen Robert Campbell and Simon Taylor dominated the highly-rated duo of Jeff White and Mark Jamar, allowing midfielders Mitchell, Sewell and Hodge to consistently bomb the ball forward. Williams latched onto some long and direct passing to boot four goals in the third term.


When Melbourne did go forward Aaron Davey, often so brilliant, seemed uninterested, while his opponent Rick Ladson picked up many possessions. Things were going so well that the young Hawks fan decided to work his magic on the young woman sitting behind him. After revealing he was six years old, he asked: “How old are you?”


“I’m 22,” she said.?“You only look 21,” he replied, before showing her his new footy boots. His father promptly decided he had done his best work for the day and they departed. The Hawks had done enough.


They barely touched the ball in the first 20 minutes of the final quarter. Cameron Bruce ran his heart out as Melbourne kicked four successive goals and narrowed the margin to seven points, despite gun forward Russell Robertson leaving the field with a jarred knee.


Clarkson threw some of his players back but there was no official flood. “Too shit-frightened of you media slamming us for putting numbers behind the ball, that’s why I didn’t do it,” he would say sarcastically after the match.


Boyle kicked the steadier for Hawthorn after Paul Wheatley had given away a stupid 50-metre penalty. Williams then booted the sealer – his sixth goal – and the Hawks won by 22 points.


They had gone backwards one week and straight down the guts the next.


Hawthorn 2.4 7.8 15.9 17.14 (116)
Melbourne 4.5 5.7 10.10 14.10 (94)

: Williams 6; Boyle 3; Dixon, Croad 2; Crawford, McGlynn, Franklin, Young.
Melbourne: Miller 3; Moloney, Godfrey, Jamar 2; Bate, Neitz, Ward, Robertson, White.

: Sewell, Hodge, Ladson, Williams, Mitchell, Campbell.
Melbourne: Bruce, Bate, Brown, Godfrey.

Green (Melbourne) 150 games; Wheatley (Melbourne) 100 games.

Rosebury, Sully, Ryan.

(H) 3, Hodge (H) 2, Ladson (H) 1.

(H) 3, Sewell (H) 2, Bruce (H) 1.



For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE


If you want a printed copy of the 2007 edition of the Footy Almanac, they can be purchased here.



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  2. Great write up Adam. Wow, 13 years ago. 2007 being the year the Hawks started to fly again. But who would have known what would follow! I like being reminded of players like Larson and our ricks, who have drifted to the back of my mind. And being reminded that the Hawks vs Cats Easter Monday game was not always so.

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