Wednesday, February 1, 2017

From the Hawks Vault- 'The Forgotten Flag'

My most vivid memory of this game was in the rooms after.

With irate Carlton President John Elliot bursting in and labelling us all 'a bunch of sanctimonious c***s...' as fans and players celebrated in kind

The spray was in keeping with Elliot being one of the sincerest flogs one could ever encounter, but it was also inspired from shock from our win

After being dissected and obliterated by Carlton in the second semi-final, we were seen as only an each way bet to get past The Roy-Boys in the prelim. If we did, served as cannon fodder for the 'powerhouse' Blues in the GF.

The lack of respect played into our hands, with us spending 1986 as the best team but rarely given the dues allowing us to fly under the radar. With much of the attention falling on the Dons going for a hat-trick of Premiership wins along with the Blues who had become a renewed force on the back of opening the chequebook at the end of 1985.

Seeing them recruit Stephen Kernahan, Jon Dorotich, Peter Motley and Craig Bradley from interstate and Bernie Evans from the Swans.

We were seen as a spent force going into the season along with having the 'chokers' tag hang over our head after two GF losses to Essendon in the previous years.

1984 was an inexplicable loss, one seeing me still at the ground hours after, catatonic, with head between legs, completely distraught. But, hurt me as it does to pay any respect to hated 'Filth', no team was going to beat the Dons in 1985 with them one of the most powerful units assembled.

The lead into 1986 was more remarked on for losing two Legends in 'Lethal' and Peter Knights as well as the failure of the gun recruit from 85 in Steve Malaxos to adapt to life in the VFL.

Our only recruit was a Tiny Tim lookalike in rover John Platten, who all respected for his football daring and skill but many doubted whether he could deal with the demands of the VFL due to his size.

Barely standing 5'7 in the old and 65 kilo's ringing wet, most thought he would get killed.
Image result for john platten
He not only excelled but achieved Legend status at the Club before ever playing a game!

Sticking it to the hated Blues when they tried to steal him from joining the Hawks by taking an under the table gift from them and still joining us.

Platten was pivotal in 86 along with the proceeding era of success.

He was not alone with the season highlighting 'Yabby' Jeans mastery as a coach with the exclamation mark coming in the Grand Final.

The season saw him give us structure by moving Chris Langford to Full Back as well as finally harnessing the undoubted skills of Robert' Bertie' Dipierdomenico by unleashing him fully on the Wing.

It led to Dipper becoming our first Brownlow Medalist in 86, despite only attending the Award ceremony 'for the free feed'.........

His tactics in the Grand Final were a true Masterclass leading to a comprehensive 7 goal win:

The stand out was the use of Russell Greene as a defensive forward on Wayne Harmes with it showcasing how ahead of his time Yabby was.

It robbed Bruce Doull playing in his last game of Harmes support in running shot gun in his duel with Jason Dunstall. Allowing the Hawks full forward to kick 6 goals announcing his impending ascent to superstardom in the game.

One of Dunstall's goals from the second quarter where he led out at full pace, trapping the ball on the half volley and snapping it over the shoulder at full pace was truly outrageous.

'Rocket' Eade stitched up Craig Bradley
'Plough' Wallace collared Craig Blackwell
'Felix' Russo smashed 'The Dominator', Wayne Johnson

'Conan' Ayres moved to the Wing quietening David Rhys-Jones along his way to winning the Norm Smith Medal and after Kernahan smashed Chris Mew in the preceding game Chris Langford returned the favour on the big stage.

With Langers exorcising his torment from a year previous by dismembering Kernahan instigating one of the fiercest head to head duels during the era

Lastly, poor Bernie Evans who run amok in the Second Semi was smashed every time he went near the ball in the Grand Final.

Three Heartwarming Heroes 

Michael Tuck and Gary Buckenara stick in my grey matter

Firstly 'Friar', the beloved Hawks Legend that we all feared would be forced into retirement after a terrible eye injury in 1985 where he suffered a detached retina.

Seeing him given the Captaincy from 1986 onwards and rise again was one of my happiest memories in following the Hawks. I cried seeing him raise the Cup after the game with him such a respected and beloved part of the Hawks Family.

In fact, a true underrated great of the game with him never given his dues for just how great he was as a player. Spending a decade as the most formidable ruck rover in the game as well as playing many great games as an undersized key forward in the early 80's and excelling off half back and as a tagger in the latter parts of his career.

It is a crime that the AFL has not made him a Legend in its Hall of Fame!

Bucky blitzed in this game, nearly taking what would have been the greatest mark ever seen and kicking four goals in a sublime first half.

Redemption after a terrible knee injury saw him last only a few minutes in the 1983 Flag as well as having to deal with being overlooked for the 1985 Grand Final side.

It propelled Buckenara to being one of the most gifted players to ever don our famed guernsey. With him deadly dangerous as a half forward and blitzing as a brilliant onballer.

Last, but not least, Greg Dear

Rising in 1985 by winning the Reserves equivalent of the Brownlow Medal ( Gardiner Medal )and providing us with a fine ruck that we so needed after Chris Langford was destroyed when entrusted with the role in the 1985 finale

Dear never dominated but never let the team down with his ability to nullify the many great rucks of the time as well as emerge in key moments.

The Games Legacy 

It not only ignited the careers of many that went on to super stardom but also gave the team the belief it so needed after the torment of the previous two years.

Only cruel injuries to key men Jason Dunstall and Dermott Brereton in 1987 prevented us stuffing the Blues once more on the way to completing a 4-peat

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