A spoiled Hawk heads north

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HE SAYS he’s not a haughty Hawk, but on the other hand STEVE PERKIN does look down on the 2017 finals with disdain:

SO, THIS IS what September is like when you don’t care about football. I seem to remember this feeling. I had it in 2009 and for several years last century and I don’t particularly like it.

Yes, how did you guess? I barrack for Hawthorn and, I admit, I’ve been spoilt.

Now, I don’t want to appear to be snubbing my nose at supporters from other teams. Heaven forbid that I give the impression that I’m a cocky, supercilious wanker. No, I think Geelong have done quite well in recent times and I’m told they’re a chance again this year. Wonderful.

And Richmond have made it. Here was me thinking the competition demanded they finish 9th every season. Good luck to them, too.

It’s just that I don’t care. Wouldn’t pull the curtains if they were playing in my back yard.

My wife asked me last week who I hoped would win the flag this year. I told her I couldn’t give a fat rat’s clacker. And I don’t.

She’s got a second team. Her first team is Brisbane and her second team is Essendon.

If your first team is crap, then it’s understandable that you might have a second team. If your second team is also crap, there’s probably a fair chance you know when the A-League season is starting.

It has been an interesting season to follow Hawthorn and I must admit I’ve been slightly bemused by the accolades that have fallen on coach Alastair Clarkson and his “impressive rebuild”.

I’m not sure he had much of a choice. By mid-season, injuries had meant he was without his full-back (Frawley), his entire half-backline (Birchall, Stratton, Gibson), a key on-baller (O’Meara) and his best small forward (Rioli). Another small forward would soon follow (Puopolo), while the ruck stocks were depleted by not having Ceglar and Fitzpatrick, and by the fact that we did have Vickery.

As I see it, this left Al with two choices – turn to the reserves or not field a team. Blow me over with the wave of a feather, but he chose the former. And it went OK.

Makes you wonder what he would have done had all those premiership players not gone down with injuries, especially if they’d continued to lose games as they did at the season’s opening when they were all available (one win, five losses). Would he have dropped them?

It’s tough to drop players who have been to the well, once, twice, three or even four times, especially when you’re a loyal coach like Clarkson has been.

So, the kids came in and filled a role, and they did it well enough for the Hawks to still be a remote finals chance up until the second last game of the season when Carlton, a team that owes Hawthorn so much, beat them.

Why does Carlton owe a debt to the brown and gold? Well, three of their past seven coaches were Hawthorn products – Parkin, Barker and Bolton.  If we hadn’t given them Parkin in 1981, Percy Jones might still be coach.

The Blues won’t be there this year and nor will I. I don’t like non-aligned supporters going to Grand Finals. They don’t cheer because they don’t really care and this robs the event of atmosphere.

Hawthorn’s membership cry used to be “paid up and passionate” and I believe this. Unless you are financially committed in some way, then you’re not seriously passionate. If you’re not passionate, then your mentality is: “OK, I’m here, now entertain me.” The “G” on Grand Final day isn’t for these people.

Unless, of course, it’s a GWS v Port Adelaide Grand Final, in which case we might all need to go to prevent the joint from looking as empty as a rugby league game.

Regardless of who’s playing, I won’t be. I’m writing these words from 30,000ft on a flight to Queensland where I intend to stay for as long as I want.  I wonder how many other no-longer-interested Hawthorn supporters are on this flight?

I’m going to spend time with Brisbane relatives who love the Broncos. I like Storm. I very nearly “love” Storm and I’ll enjoy watching them and sticking it to our northern neighbours.

I’d probably enjoy sticking it to neighbours in New South Wales more. People in NSW seem to have a genuine hatred of our boys in purple. But I don’t know anybody in New South Wales.

So good luck to the eight teams taking part, and I hope your team wins, although I really don’t. I couldn’t care less.

mm

Author: Steve Perkin

STEVE PERKIN had a long and distinguished career as a journalist, covering sport and general news and writing daily columns for The Age and the Herald Sun. He was also executive producer of The Footy Show on Channel 9 for three years.

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