The final weeks of the Team Hawkins season had the boys head to North Narrabeen for Week 1 of the Gala Day series. With 4 games in front of us, we would need to finish Top 2 in our pool to progress.
Conditions were cold and windy, perhaps one of the coldest days of the season. We played Pittwater Tigers, Forest Lions and two sides from Willoughby Wildcats. A tough start in heavy winds for Game 1, saw the boys fall agonisingly short to Pittwater by 1 pt. From there we backed up against Forest and played a brilliant game, easily defeating a side we had lost to twice during the H&A season. The boys were excited by the short 14min game formats and were well and truly aware of what was at stake. Two more wins against the Willoughby sides and Hawkins had finished 2ndin Pool C. We were onto the Finals.
Allan Border Oval in Mosman hosted Week 2 and unfortunately Hawkins had drawn club mates Team Selwood in the Qualifying Final. The two teams had split our matches 1-1 during the H&A season, so both sides were quietly confident of a win. The game had been extended to 2x10min halves and Hawkins jumped out of the blocks winning plenty of the contested ball and attacking hard. We soon hit the scoreboard and in continuing form from last week the Hawkins boys managed to extend their lead and go on to win the game. It was a tough way to start the day against Selwood, but the excitement of the boys was building as we progressed into the Preliminary Final against the side we lost to last week – Pittwater.
In a terrific battle the boys had a good start and lead by a couple of goals at half time. A quick word to my Assistant Coach Mic and we decided that we would go for it and keep our side locked into preferred positions. This was against our season process, but it was obvious the boys wanted to win. In a 2nd half that repeated the first, the boys had some great connection and we poured on the pressure and delivered a comfortable win. We were into the Grand Final!
The GF had us up against the Manly Bombers. The breeze was favouring one end and we had the advantage of this in the 1st half. The message to the boys was simple. Go and win your own ball and get it on the boot or pressure the opposition with chase & tackle.
Both sides were very even and despite having the ball in our forward zone more than Manly, we could not hit the scoreboard efficiently. They were able to score 2 important goals into the breeze. Down at half, the parents rallied around the boys and with the additional support of Team Selwood, the noise sending the boys back out for the 2ndhalf was uplifting. We needed to move it quickly and get it to our forwards on the move. For the next 10mins the ball went up and down, both sides truly not giving an inch. Our defence was withstanding some heat, our mids worked up and back & side to side. Our forwards found their range and with goals back to back, we hit the front with only minutes to go. I was nervous for the boys but willed on more. Unfortunately, with only a minute or so to go, a Manly player found themselves in space and slotted a long-range goal. Moments later the siren sounded, and it was a moment lost, but not forgotten.
Tears and frustration flowed from the boys. We all felt their loss, but it had been a gallant two weeks of football. Hawkins had tried their hearts out and in doing so played their best footy of the year when it possibly mattered most. I was truly proud of their efforts, they were in a word “Fantastic”! We spoke about the loss and the tears. I knew this moment would be not be forgotten, not for the result, but for the day they realised how great AFL is and what an awesome game it is to play and share in as a team.
The Hawkins boys have been a terrific, committed team that has developed measurably. Thank you to Mic Lumley and Chris Bredenhann for their loyal support and organisation. Thank you to the parents for their weekly support. Finally, thank you to the boys. Well done on a great season, I have loved every minute of it.
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