The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 4 – Hawthorn v Geelong: A memorable match

 

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 on www.footyalmanac.com.au. Follow the season!

 

 

Hawthorn versus Geelong

1.10pm, Sunday, April 22

Aurora Stadium, Launceston

 

 

Launceston feels old. Stone buildings with their Georgian windows make the Tasmanian provincial city appear older than most places on the mainland. Because it is.


Strolling around the Botanical Gardens also takes you back in time. The huge oaks, the neat paths, and the conservatory of exotic ferns are monuments to British imperialism and the British desire to impose order. There is even a monkey cage.

 

York Park has a bit of everything. The main grandstand is a contemporary structure. Alongside it is the quaint Northern Stand painted in Federation colours. It makes you feel you are at the Strathalbyn races. In 1894.

 

There is even a military band, that great fixture of Australian sporting events. Only this one is different. Its the Tasmanian detachment of the RAN Band, and more notably, a fair dinkum rock band.

 

There is something inherently amusing about a man in ceremonial double- breasted dress uniform with shiny brass buttons belting out AC/DCs ‘Back In Black’ (in well-trained falsetto). Especially when the lead guitarist has peroxided hair and, like most of the band, is wearing the Donald Duck seamans collar. The sea dog saxophonist with his salty beard heads the six-strong horn section. They fire up again: Play that funky music, white boy.

 

Were grooving on the terrace. Feeling very 70s. And ready for a traditional 70s end-to-end contest.

 

We dont get it. Instead we get coaches who implement strategies so complex you have to be a Bowden to understand them. Both set up with an extra man in defence: Clarkson sends Hodge back, onto Mooney, who doesnt fancy the match-up. He is relieved when another defender picks him up and Hodge drifts off. The nett result is that Hodge roams free, with Milburn free at the other end. Its a win to Clarkson. Geelong have a brisk southerly at their backs. Hawthorn have a loose man in defence.

 

During the week Bomber Thompson has predicted that the big ground and Hawthorns ugly style will make for a congested, tight game. They are bizarre comments, particularly from the coach of a team that has just enjoyed two ten-goal wins playing fast, open footy. To the amateur on the terrace, the enormous ground suggests the opposite: plenty of space.

 

In the opening minutes, defender Andrew Mackie streams through the centre square and shoots from 60 metres. When he makes the distance comfortably we realise it’s a four-goal breeze, and Im thinking if the Geelong runners can get it in quickly, Mooney, Nathan Ablett and Tom Hawkins might be hard to contain. If the wind makes marking difficult, the crumbers, Paul Chapman, Mathew Stokes, Shannon Byrnes, will clean up.

 

But thats the difference between the terrace and the coaches’ box. The Cats just wont kick it long, choosing instead to rack up handballs across half-back and through the middle. And nervous handballs at that. The absence of authority renders the process ludicrous and the Hawk defenders have all the time in the world to get back. Its as if centre half-forward has been deemed an absolute no-go zone. Perhaps the fear, on such a big ground, is that any passage of open play followed by a lost contest will result in loose men everywhere.

 

Yet the Cats are still able to kick the only three goals of the opening term. Hawthorns possessions are crisper during the second term but they find it difficult to penetrate the stacked backline as well. Sam Mitchell is shut down by Cameron Ling but Shane Crawford gets plenty of the footy. Mark Williams beats Matthew Scarlett and his set shot from 50 metres out on the boundary line is just brilliant. The Cats struggle to clear the footy from defence.

 

Hawthorns pressure is relentless. Their goals into the wind in the third quarter prove the difference. Clinton Young keeps a low shot under the wind for an intelligent goal. Buddy Franklin marks directly in front. The wind is more inconvenient than anything else but it demands players think about what theyre doing. Gary Ablett provides quite a few of the games highlights, in particular his gather, turn to the boundary line, and handball to Stokes for a classic major.

 

Hawthorn make the play in the final quarter. Kicking with the wind, they have winners around the ground. Brad Sewells rise continues. He takes the points over Chappie, who is frustrated. The Hawks sneak in front but cant kick clear. Stokes has a chance to steal the game for Geelong in the dying minutes but his snap goes wide.

 

The Cats lose. But the game is memorable: my first at old York Park. I will always have an image in my mind, as I look across the forward line, of pairs of blue and white and brown and gold, haloed in the soft, angled sunlight, in front of the wooden grandstand, under the lime-yellow trees.

 

 

Hawthorn 0.3 4.7 8.9 10.16 (76)

Geelong  3.3 4.8 8.13 9.18 (72)

 

GOALS

Hawthorn: Williams 3; Crawford, Taylor, Guerra, Boyle, Franklin, Ellis, Young.
Geelong: Stokes, G. Ablett, Kelly 2; Milburn, Wojcinski, Ling.

 

BEST

Hawthorn: Crawford, Hodge, Sewell, Lewis, Franklin.

Geelong: G. Ablett, Milburn, Ling, Mackie.

 

UMPIRES:     Meredith, Wenn, Ryan.

 

CROWD:      17,120 

 

OUR VOTES:       Crawford (H) 3, G. Ablett (G) 2, Hodge (H) 1.

 

BROWNLOW:       Crawford (H) 3, Wojcinski (G) 2, Hodge (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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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

Comments

  1. JASON ANDREW TOPPIN says

    GEELONG WON TI 2007 PEMOER AND HAWTHORN WON THE 2008 PREMIERSHIP

  2. The Cats were 2-2 at this stage, and looked to have returned to their 2006 stagnancy. With players reticent to take the game on. It was frustrating to watch. But a memorable weekend in Westbury with Ade (The baker) and Tam. The drive to Launceston for the game was brilliant.

  3. Tasmania is the one state/territory remaining on my “To visit” list, but you paint a very good picture of one of its oldest exhibits, Launceston, John.
    And seeing a rock band in “Donald Duck” outfits is a bonus even before a great game of footy kicked off.
    From a sheer statistical point of view, this game was remarkable for being the last time until the 2013 preliminary final that Hawthorn beat Geelong in a “close one”.
    Yes, the Hawks beat the Cats by 26 points in a 2008 Grand Final notable for 11 forced Geelong behinds (we’re talking the scoreboard and not anatomy here).
    But of the 10 matches (including Round 17, 2008) between the pair decided by less than two goals, the Cats won the lot.
    I recall Geelong’s dominance over Hawthorn post-2008 was called the “Kennett Curse”, but it’s doubtful in VFL/AFL history that one team has had such a hold on another in “thrillers” over a five-year period.

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