When we moved to Melbourne in 2004/2005 I was still crazy about United. I still am. However, slowly but surely the lure of AFL has staked front and centre attention.
It’s near impossible to miss the enormity of the code to Melbourne. In my first job at Sharrock Pitman, the boss was an Essendon fan. A colleague was a Pies man and I forget what the others went for. I remember though, barracking for St Kilda that year simply because it was the last Melbourne side in the finals. All the while though – having heeded Uncle Marloney’s counsel that if we wanted to go for a “local” side it was the Hawks – I wanted the Hawks to win. Sam Mitchell looked really good even then but Shane Crawford was the star. I was wanting the Hawks to succeed from that time on.
So by the time Hawthorn won it in 2008 (the first time since we moved to Melbourne), I found myself cheering on and feeling rapt. Shane Crawford’s reaction on receiving his medal was one for the ages – at least for me, a newbie AFL fan. From that time on however, I started watching more Hawks games than any other team but I was still watching them on tv.
Last year I watched as many Hawks games on tv as I could and went to a a couple of games at the G. More importantly however, we kept September free and ensured each finals game Hawks was involved in was respected. I held a couple of footy parties at home for the preliminary final as well as the Grand Final against Fremantle.
This year, our AFL involvement came came of age. Tress and I went to the G for Hawks’ games several times, including 2 in the finals series. We kept Grand Final day sacred – did a barbie and set it all up nicely. Like almost everyone else I was expecting a close game and had hoped for Hawks to just scrape through. The first 10 minutes of play said Hawks could probably scrape through. The hunger was immense and they jumped in first at every turn. Sharper, quicker, more efficient and demosntrably hungrier, they soon had the Swans rattled and it was a fabulous first quarter, followed by continuing and relentless domination by the Hawks midfield. Sydney was shell shocked, and despite expecting to see some reaction at the start of the next 3 quarters the outcome was soon becoming clear. Some 10-15 minutes into the last quarter, I started celebrating.
We continued the celebratory theme well into Sunday. After church and Madam K, I went for the party at Glenferrie Oval where players and the trophies were presented for fans to wallow over. Some fireworks and streamers were let off which caught some power lines that resulted in trains being cancelled. I had to walk from Glenferrie Station to Camberwell station and was told on arrival, that even trains from there had been cancelled. Tress came to the rescue – she drove to Camberwell and picked me up. It was good however to have walked through the 2-3km of streets in Hawthorn and get a feel of the happy mood in this part of town.
We got home, we did our usual cooking for the week, prepared lunch etc and then settled down to get ready for life in its usual cycle again. It was a magical weekend for our growing love affair with AFL and Hawthorn.