There is no greater rivalry in modern AFL football than Geelong Vs. Hawthorn. Older folk may talk about the glory days of Collingwood Vs. Carlton, some might argue that West Coast and Sydney had a good thing going there for a while, but nothing compares to the epic battles between these two great AFL powerhouses.
The Geelong/Hawthorn rivalry is not new. Its origins date back to the 1980s; most notably, the famous 1989 Grand Final when the hawks outlasted a gallant and fierce Geelong outfit to secure the flag by 6 points. Two men wrote their names in the history books of football glory that day: Dermott Brereton and Gary Ablett Snr. Dermie had his ribs broken courtesy of a Mark Yeates’ shirt front in the opening seconds, yet he played on. Ablett produced a best on ground display, booting nine goals and being one of only four players to win the Norm Smith Medal in a losing side.
25 years later, the footy world awaits another classic between the cats and the hawks. The Kennett Curse might be broken, but that takes nothing away from the rivalry. Geelong have won 12 out of the last 13 since the 2008 Grand Final, when a Hawthorn side stole a premiership from the best team who had produced the greatest home and away season in history.
No doubt, revenge was sweet. Watching the hawks players crown their heads in dejection every time Geelong somehow beat them by the most narrow of margins was so very satisfying. Hawthorn, gallant, but Geelong takes the chocolates, see you next time.
However I can only brag to a point, since it was the Hawks who broke our hearts last year courtesy of a five point win in the preliminary final. Cats fans and players remember it well, and they will remember it well tonight.
I genuinely hope that tonight’s match is another close game; to add to the remarkable story that is these two clubs. That, and Geelong winning by a point is so much more satisfying.
What is it about these clashes that makes them so good? The answer is that they play the game as it should be played. There’s Geelong’s fierce attack through the middle up against Hawthorn’s midfield class and forward power, even minus Buddy.
Both teams play the game to win it, and they play it with intensity, unlike the Swans or the Dockers who produce footy’s version of a choke hold that is painful for all involved.
One thing is for certain, when Geelong play Hawthorn, football is the winner, and so it shall be tonight.