By Jason Sulligoi – Chief Sports Writer



In the end it came down to the most versatile team versus the Bondi billionaires and versatility won the day easily. 


Hawthorn’s journey to claim back-to-back flags was nothing short of sensational. How’s this for a list of hurdles to overcome in one season?


1. The Hawks lost their superstar Buddy Franklin to Sydney for the most audacious super-sized contract you will ever see. No Problem.  The Hawks responded by replacing him with Luke Breust and Jack Gunston up forward. The pair, along with spearhead Jarryd Roughead, slammed over 50 goals each through the uprights. That’s a lethal forward line.


2. The Hawks lost their number 38 draft pick Dayle Garlett to home sickness among other issues.


3. The injury list kept ticking over nicely, enough to cripple most sides, but the Hawks just kept finding players to fill the gaps and kept on winning.


4. Coach Alistair Clarkson was diagnosed with Guillian Barre syndrome – an auto immune disease. He spent five weeks out of action recuperating while Assistant Coach Brendan Bolton filled in and did a great job.


There was also the embarrassing Brian Lake brain explosion which saw him nearly choke the daylights out of North Melbourne’s Drew Petrie. Lake received a month long ban, leaving Hawthorn’s leaders to apologise for the incident and having to cover for his absence in defence. Still, Hawthorn didn’t miss a beat as they kept on rolling.


The aim was to cause momentary confusion amongst the opposition. That’s all the Hawks needed to go for the kill.”


The Hawks versatility in shifting its players around was a feature of their outstanding season. Their midfield rotation was the hardest to match up on because you didn’t know who would be lining up for the centre bounce at any given time. The aim was to cause momentary confusion amongst the opposition. That’s all the Hawks needed to go for the kill.


Another feature was the Hawks ability to create space for their team mates and positioning themselves in dangerous spots in order to cause maximum damage. They were by far the best team at making quick and correct decisions, and also the team with the cleanest disposal. Yet, for all that, most pundits were tipping the Swans to win the big dance based on a far superior Preliminary Final performance. Rhubarb!


As for the Swans, they have Buddy, they have Tippet and they have a mongrel hard working midfield led by Hawthorn reject Josh Kennedy. They have the best club culture and demand the highest standards of the players. Yet they were whitewashed in the Grand Final – beaten by a harder working and smarter team. As for Sydney’s bold and expensive recruiting – well the Beatles told us Can’t Buy Me Love. However, it is a fool that writes off the Swans next year.


The other finalists at a glimpse: How good was Port Adelaide? Let’s be blunt,had Port kicked straight in the Preliminary Final, they would’ve caused a massive boil over and taken Hawthorn’s spot in the big one. They achieved their season’s objective by winning two finals. Next year might be their year. Freo? Apart from most blokes having a little man-crush on Nat Fyfe, they failed to improve on their Grand Final appearance of the year before. Two steps back.


North Melbourne weaselled their way into a Prelim, but was swatted away like a pesky fly. The fact they snuck so deep into September will hold them in good stead for next year, as they know exactly what level must be reached in order to go all the way. Geelong went out in straight sets. That is a disaster for a club that has been a part of the furniture during Final’s time for the past decade. Only a fool writes Geelong off. I’m not game to declare their dynasty over.


The Bombers could’ve found themselves in North’s position had they taken their chances in the Elimination Final. Coughing up big leads has been a feature of Essendon’s year and it was fitting that the Bombers squandered a big lead to end their season. Richmond steamrolled their way into September, only to run out of puff when it mattered most, ending their season with a drubbing at the hands of Port in hostile territory. The Yellow and Black bandwagon had lost its wheels.


In a season which saw the ugly ASADA mess drag on and cause continued public fatigue, and with prices sky-rocketing at live matches, leaving attendances dwindling like never before, Hawthorn was the breath of fresh air that produced some tantalising football whilst overcoming problems of its own. To the victors go the spoils and they are indeed a very happy team at Hawthorn.




Jason Sulligoi is an experienced Sports Writer and a professional Drum Teacher. Contact sports@thenorthsider.com.au  

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