Thursday, September 29, 2011

Footy Finals '11

The Hawks finished third this year, giving us the second chance in the first week of the finals, and some confidence that maybe we could repeat the feat of 2008. Losing just 4 matches over the main season, despite some season-ending player injuries to unsettle the team make up, we had played some good football.

Our first match, a Qualifying final, had us meet Geelong at the MCG, on the Friday night. Driving down to Melbourne, dropping the car in North Melbourne, and then tramming into the city, I met Jessie and Heath, Jenny and Lizette, at Riverland, for a nerve-settling beer.

Taking our seats in the rain, in the cheersquad bay of the Southern Stand, we stood with nerves for the anthem. I love how we line up, linked, for this ritual - a legacy of Shane Crawford.

The first quarter had us up, with Rioli and Franklin converting, however Geelong completely overran us in the Second, dominating and developing a commanding lead. Our younger kids, especially the first year players, seemed like deer in the headlights for the rest of the onslaught for the second half. A 31 point loss, and a sickening knee hyper extension injury for Buddy.

Losing in the first week had us meet Sydney in the Semi Final, another Friday night match, with the focus of the selection talk all about whether Franklin would play. Play he did, and kicking 4 goals, he played his natural game after a tentative few minutes in the opening quarter. A dominating win from the Hawks, we got to lap it up from the ground level of the Ponsford Stand. Josh Gibson's defensive work was a sensation, and the 36 point win had our finals hopes still alive, and a date for the Preliminary Final week.

Grabbing our tickets again the following Monday morning, as Hawthorn Members, we were set to do it all again for another week, with another Friday night match. The same ritual, Jessie and Heath, Melissa and I met Mum at our seats on the ground level of the Southern Stand, closer to the fence this week.

This was such a great game. All week the talk was about Buddy Franklin and his 'gastro', but our team lined up as selected, and it was game on. A pretty even match for the first half, our Hawks played so well against the well-oiled machine that was the Magpies outfit this year. Leading by 8 points at half time, we came straight out of the blocks for the 3rd quarter, pulling out to a 17 point buffer at the change.

The last quarter is still a blur to me, with Collingwood catching us in a barrage of goals, and then the lead changed another two times, before the time ran out. 3 points! So many missed opportunities. So close! Really devastating.

We drowned our sorrows after the match at Cabinet, before calling it over for our Finals, and our footy season for 2011, with heavy hearts.

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