The Muse: Finals Week 2 (2016) – Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs


The Muse (Hayden Kelly) has been sending his observations to an email group for years. We hope to return to a few of them. Here’s the first one:




Well last night two tribes descended on the MCG the Mecca of Sport in our fair land . Two tribes as far apart culturally  as the Kerrigans from The Castle and the Kennetts from Surrey Hills .


The Hawks from the leafy Eastern Suburbs adorned in their wee and poo-coloured designer scarves chatted about property prices in Brighton and Toorak and whether they would be bothered going up to Sydney for the Preliminary Final or catch a last ski at the chalet at Falls Creek before coming back to watch the Hawks win their fourth grand final in a row . I really admire Hawthorn supporters as they stick through THICK and THICK


The battlers from the West adorned in their red white and blue chatting about the cost of tickets and how they would need to do some overtime next week to pay for them. No chat about preliminary finals just some hope in their hearts and a quiet confidence their boys would have a red hot go as has been the case since a stumpy little bloke called Luke Beveridge with a nondescript playing record decided he could have a bigger impact west of the river. I love Bulldogs supporters as they stick through THIN and THINNER .


Let’s face it the battlers were playing the silvertails, the club with a ‘tragic history ‘according to that well known contributor to all things good John Elliott was playing the Family Club with certainly the proudest recent history in the AFL. The club which has finally scrambled 40k members were playing  the club with 75k members and an expectation to hit 100k . The workers were playing the bosses.


Now the Hawks haven’t won three in a row because they are devoid of talent. They are overflowing with champions. They have Cyril who shares the honour with Usain Bolt as having the capacity to cause Bruce McAvaney to orgasm mid race. Hodge, Mitchell, Burgoyne, Lewis, Gibson, Smith etc etc  etc .


The Dogs have some talent but no champions. Our only champion Saint Bob wasn’t in attendance as ironically he blew his knee out against the Hawks earlier in the year.  We do have an Italian kid from Eltham, Bontempelli, who goes ok  and a little kid, Daniel, who we recruited from the little league and who plays in a helmet because he does his paper round after the game also goes ok . Young Picken has a crack and the other Italian kid, Liberatore,  plays just like a Libba should. Jack McCrae compliments our rag-tag bunch as he has hands like a surgeon and the coolness of a card sharp and JJ breaks lines by running with the ball the way an urchin does when he has stolen a loaf of bread .


Now 88,000 punters saw a cracking game of footy no doubt about that.  The Dogs were nervous early. Jeez how do you explain Dicko who most Bulldogs supporters would let kick for goal for their lives miss two shots from distances Bernie Quinlan  would have knocked it through with his appendage . It was the nervous challenger against the ageing champ. Dogs parried and the Hawks intimidated. Mid-way through the second term the bosses were in control and chatting about what Corporate function they would book for Grand Final Day  and the workers started chatting about what if we didn’t have the injuries and we can’t wait till next year with a full list .


Somehow the Dogs got a run on and went into half time on level terms . Interesting to see a melee develop at half time in a close game. Jeez that’s not like Hawthorn! Even more encouraging was the enthusiastic  participation in that event by the Dogs. Surprised to see Picken and Libba  lead the charge [not really] and they were ably assisted by Tom Boyd which on reflection doesn’t surprise me because he punches his bestie Zane Cordy in the face in bars just for a lark .


Now in the third quarter the Hawks intimidated early but missed shots Bernie Quinlan would have ……. .And then it turned, all of a sudden the workers were out bossing the bosses. The mighty Hawthorn wall started to crumble and I suspect the happiest supporters in the ground weren’t the Dogs, they were the neutrals who had turned up hoping to witness the statue of Gaddafi being toppled. Oh how did they cheer when it did.


Hodge snarled and his mind kept making promises his ageing body couldn’t keep. Mitchell seemed to be admiring the little Bike boys work. Smith, Lewis and Cyril clocked off and Burgoyne was looking more nylon than silk .


Onward we marched to a victory for the true believers .


I did note not many Hawks supporters did the early exit ‘beat the traffic’ walk but I am putting that down to lack of experience in such matters rather than commitment to the cause .


Off we went on our separate ways. Those to the east got into their Mercs and Beamers and drove out to the leafy Eastern Suburbs and tried to explain to their sons and daughters currently attending Scotch and MLC that sometimes life is so unfair we all deserve a holiday in Europe [let’s go Monday].


Meanwhile those from the west got onto the trains and headed out to the workers’ cottages in Footscray and Seddon and Yarraville or to the Commission houses in Sunshine and Albion. As they passed through the Saltwater Flats and smelt the smell of the abattoirs and the tanneries their hearts swelled with pride. I glanced up as we passed the Footscray Town Hall and I swear I saw the great EJ and Charlie and Wally Donald and their mates from 1954 on the balcony arm in arm singing a hearty rendition of Sons of the Scray.  Next months  supply of Abbotts longknecks were consumed on a beautiful Friday night .


This morning when I walked my champion greyhound Son of Coco, the streets of the west were alive . The gutter children had ceased their fighting and were kicking footballs made of Craven A cork tips packs rolled up and wrapped in rubber bands. They were pretending to be the Bont, or son of Billy or the Bike boy or Dally or Libba or Big Roughie . Interesting none of them was trying to be Dale Morris, our unobtrusive wonderful backman, who never ceases to amaze me with his courage and commitment to the cause .


Even the ice dealers were being nice to people .


As a reward.


Well, we are off to Homebush  next week to play in a stadium which holds 24000 people ?????.We get to play the AFL  laboratory experiment gone horribly right.


The only thing we can promise is we will have a crack, our blokes don’t know another way .


If we lose The Dogs supporters will be really pleased for the 10,000 paid up GWS members as we appreciate sticking through thin times for three years is a magnificent achievement. They deserve some success .





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  1. John Butler says

    Great to revisit this memorable night. Thanks, Hayden.

    (PS: I was one of those neutrals willing the statue to fall).

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