What becomes of the broken hearted?

The mid career departure of a club superstar can leave a deep psychological imprint on the child supporter. During the finals series last year I gazed at the thousands of Hawk children with the #23 on the back and pondered the impact of a Jungian like “collective unconscious” incident in the event Buddy took the money and ran. Mentally tuned to his abandoning ship, when he ended up at Sydney my initial feelings since he was no longer one of us, were for Greater Western Sydney duped at the last moment from securing their catch. Then I felt for our kids and the future of our existence.

The Victorian economy is turning to dust like the smouldering remnants of the Latrobe Valley coal fields with Shell, Qantas, Alcoa evaporating jobs at an astonishing rate. Governments look on helplessly thinking the use of the word “pain” somehow translates into policy. How will the economy go once Hawthorn supporters face up to and address the character defining question of the continued adornment of the #23 emblazoned guernsey. Multiply that with the Victorian collapse of the associate Buddy components merchandise and future commercial transactions will likely be conducted with traded cigarettes. If they leave the number in droves in search of alternative numbers Economists predict a net result of 27,000 jobs created and interest rate pressure in the first season alone. But if they stay with the 23 could the last person leaving Victoria please flick off the lights?

History illuminates past economic woes attributable directly to stars seeking new galaxies, to wit:

  • Ron Barrassi leaving Melbourne to coach Carlton in 1964 and the disastrous run on the pound.
  • Alex Jesaulenko with the premiership champers barely dry nor the head pealing stopped before departing Carlton for St Kilda in 1980 that saw the bellboy into the stock market.
  • Tony “Plugger” Lockett trading Moorabin for the SCG in the nineties.
  • Brendan Fevola shown the door down to Brisbane after one too many live to air Steven “Pressure Points” Segali jokes at his skippers expense during the 2009 Brownlow Medal with an inverse impact on Crown’s share price.

The contemporary guernsey problem is exacerbated when you realise today’s technology contributes to the problem. Essentially you’re now rusted on with a number integrated into the very mix of fabric, traces of nuts, palm oil, particle board and nylon that comprise today’s ultimate team instrument. In generations past, mum – moving quickly to disaster recovery mode – would purely pick off the plastic number of the discarded, traded or shunted to long term injury list player, pop down to the Haberdashery for some beaut plastic numbers then apply the Janomi to the addition of the next hero in line.

The fate of the economy in 2014 rests with one man. That man – Tim O’Brien – faces the biggest challenge of all in continuing the #23 franchise at Hawthorn. Drafted in 2012, the determined redhead had no compunction ditching #40 from the previous season to commandeer the hallowed digits occupied through the past by such Hawthorn deity as John Peck, Don Scott, Dermott Brereton…and of course Lance Franklin (Lest we forget).

Number 23 - the past is prologue

Number 23 – the past is prologue

Footy fans in search of folk heroes tend to take those players to their hearts who fall into one or more of the following categories:

  1. Tough dour, dependable in any situation. Heart like a sleeve.
  2. Freakish, unpredictable, broke the DNA mould once born. Once in a generation
  3. Knockabout, looks, feels and plays like one of use had we actually made it. Punches above his weight at least once a game in an act that secures his selection the following week. Cheered each time he has a red hot go even in vain.
  4. Loyal and true team adherence to Spock’s notion that “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Or the We are “all for One”.

Taking our cue from James Bond, Tim could either be a George Lazenby to a franchise saving Sean Connery’s Bond OR an own man style Daniel Craig depending on the alignment of 3 celestial factors:

  • Parents already struggling for breathe under a mountain of debt and daily rising prices desperately convince their children to delay the purchase of the new jumper with Cyril’s number on the back until we “give Tim a chance” upon which he delivers via his own path and place in the side.
  • Tim gets picked Round 1 as an emergency – comes into the side through good fortune. Takes a hanger, swings a game, belts or nullifies an opposition star, snags a snap over the shoulder on the boundary in time out or puts on a supremely good impression of Kayne “Jeezus” West on the motorbike with the K as he dodges powerade eruptions while screaming out the song post game.
  • Does for romance what Majak Daws does for body building and struts out at funky “in crowd sorry Mick you cant come in” clubs with an emerging Aussie grown international starlet/model after seeing off a variety of showbiz, business and television rivals through a combination of charisma, heart, cunning and pure wow factor. Abs too.

Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 6.30.53 PMI’m excited and on board Tim purely and simply for his guts in the weight of expectation of that number. NAB challenge form is good. Big strong lad. Big Mark. Straight as a die kick. Red hair like the young brash arrogant gotta love ‘im Dermie. I’m wishing for the alignment of the celestial bodies and that he kicks a goal for his and the clubs dreams and ties one on!

I had that same ol feeling when I saw Buddy line up for his debut at the SCG ironically against the Swans back in 2005. *Sigh*………GO TIM!!!!

About Mick Gwyther

Greying slowing wannabe tragic player/writer/raconteur whose only claim to footy cred is a goal from the dot at the death in a final 35 years ago. Down hill from there but with passion. Hawk jester. Author of @micksfootyblog


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Ironically Tim O Brien was the player the crows were gong to chose before the penalty of the Tippett cock up so he has a fairly large following already

  2. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Hey Mick.
    My Cygnet used to get us to masking tape the numbers on the back of his cleanskin Swans Jersey. There was 9 in the Malceski phase, 16 in the Rohan phase … A little older now and with a more narcissistic numerological approach, he’s quite chuffed about Buddy because he was born on a 23rd!

  3. Lovely Mathilde – love your cygnet story. My father was a Swanee and I nearly became a Cygnet. He began barracking for em in 1933 final series. The only Swans thing he wore was a beanie – very occasionally. I wish Buddy but still with us but your Cygnet is in for a hell of a ride, because there are going to be days that he will be unstoppable and she’ll remember those forever! All power to the Cygnets mum!!! Cheers, Mick

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