IT was like watching the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster.
As the ball smacked off Isaac Smith’s boot, Hawks fans laughed and embraced and marvelled at the beauty of life and of all that the footy Gods have blessed them with.
And then it fucking exploded.
Mouths agape, they looked up in pure horror as the ball drifted right and they were showered in the debris of Geelong hubris.
They walked into the MCG with a song in their heart and a spring in their Julius Marlow step. They walked out of it a husk, lacking purpose, lacking joy, lacking everything that made them decide to become a Hawks fan in the last decade or so.
But you know what? The US didn’t abandon their space program after Challenger, and the Hawks won’t have abandoned their quest for an historic fourth flag in a row.
Get past the Bulldogs this weekend and Hawthorn face a young and inexperienced Giants squad in a preliminary final.
Granted, the Giants have an exceptional record against the Hawks at Spotless Stadium, but as one Hawthorn fan on Twitter sagely put it to me: “you need to get your head out your ass.gisnts playing 1 game in 4 weeks prior to the pre lim will derail then” and “your opinion is invalid if you have watched the Hawks the past 4 years they don’t lose pre Lims”.
While his grammar is abhorrent and my stat that the Giants have defeated the Hawks the last two times they played at Spotless is more – ya know – fact rather than opinion, he had a point.
The Hawks do have a habit of winning prelim finals (a side effect of winning grand finals), and they do have form in losing the first week before going on a run to premiership glory.
In fact (not opinion), four teams have managed to do it since the current final 8 system was introduced in 2000, with each premiership team eventually beating the team they lost to in the first week.
So if the Hawks were to do it again and follow the trend, they would go on to play Geelong in this year’s grand final, beat them, and completely and utterly destroy the lives of thousands of Cats fans, with spikes in depression, suicide and violence in Sleepy Hollow.
The people of Geelong would stop going to work, leading to apocalyptic scenes as the Shell refinery explodes, spewing toxic air from Corio all the way across Port Phillip Bay, choking the flora and fauna of Melbourne to death and leaving scenes reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s Mad Max, as Victorians face a life without fuel, without food, without hope.
No one wants that, and if you do, you’re a monster.
So on that note, call us Franco Cozzo and smother us in Ethiopian wat, because this week we’re all passionate Footscray supporters.
No pressure, Doggies.
QF: Collingwood 9.12.66 d Brisbane 7.9.51 at the MCG
SF: Brisbane 18.16.124 d Adelaide 12.10.82 at the Gabba
PF: Brisbane 14.16.100 d Sydney 8.8.56 at ANZ Stadium
GF: Brisbane 20.14.134 d Collingwood 12.12.84 at the MCG
JUST when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…
After winning the previous two premierships, Brisbane walked off the MCG after the qualifying final having lost seven of their last 13 games and no longer looking invincible.
Collingwood, on the other hand, were in a streak of 11 wins in 12 matches and had looked comfortable – while not dominant – against the Lions, before smashing Port Adelaide by 44 points in the preliminary final.
Maybe they got ahead of themselves, maybe the memory of their brave loss to the Lions the year before gave them unwarranted confidence, or maybe they just weren’t even close to good enough.
Either way, Simon Black and co tore the Magpies apart to the tune of 50-points and the historic threepeat was complete.
QF: West Coast 10.9.69 d Sydney 10.5.65 at Subiaco
SF: Sydney 7.14.56 d Geelong 7.11.53 at the SCG
PF: Sydney 15.6.96 d St Kilda 9.11.65 at the MCG
GF: Sydney 8.10.58 d West Coast 7.14.54 at the MCG
BLOODY Nick Davis.
After falling agonisingly short of toppling West Coast in Perth in their qualifying final, the Swans took their angst out on Geelong a week later at the SCG with a last kick win over the baby Cats.
Anthony Hudson lost a part of his soul commentating the moment that Davis shattered the hearts of Geelong supporters, as Sydney booked a prelim against the Saints at the MCG, then a rematch against the Eagles on the last Saturday of September.
A low scoring and enthralling affair, Leo Barry’s famous mark saved the day for the Swans and they won their first premiership in 72 years.
It also gave them the upper hand over their bitter rivals from the West…briefly.
WEST COAST 2006
QF: Sydney 13.7.85 d West Coast 12.12.84 at Subiaco
SF: West Coast 16.17.113 d Western Bulldogs 5.9.39 at Subiaco
PF: West Coast 11.19.85 d Adelaide 11.9.75 at AAMI Stadium
GF: West Coast 12.13.85 d Sydney 12.12.84 at the MCG
IN an eerily similar but mirrored situation to the year before, West Coast took revenge on the Swans by taking the long road to glory.
Losing to Sydney by 1-point in the qualifying final (it was 4-points the year before), the Eagles would eventually beat the Swans by 1-point in the grand final (also 4-points the year before), as ying and yang Chris Judd and Ben Cousins led their blue ribbon midfield to the flag on the back of gut-running and questionable off-field behaviour.
QF: West Coast 14.12.96 d Hawthorn 9.10.64 at Subiaco
SF: Hawthorn 21.9.135 d Adelaide 8.13.61 at the MCG
PF: Hawthorn 15.4.94 d Fremantle 10.7.67 at Subiaco
GF: Hawthorn 16.11.107 d West Coast 8.13.61 at the MCG
An audible sigh of relief echoed around the football world when the Eagles knocked-off the all conquering Hawks in the qualifying final last year.
It was over. The serial killer had met his demise. The hero from Perth impaled the beast with a sharp stick before slumping to the ground, head in hands, gulping for breath as he tried to compose himself.
But in the background, the apparently lifeless body slowly started to rise. Inch by inch it worked itself free from weapon, before creeping up on our hero and stabbing him square through the neck.
Here’s hoping there isn’t a sequel coming, but if it’s like every other cheap slasher film, the Hawkening 2 seems almost inevitable.