If it’s definitely over for the Hawks, then how long do they deserve to be bad, or mediocre?
1 The Hawthorn obits have been flowing, as the premiers of four of the last nine have that look of Ali fighting Holmes – everything appears the same, except the level of performance. The fact that the Hawks’ total of 48 points against Geelong was their lowest at the MCG since 2004 – nine rounds after the famed Line in the Sand match – would have particularly stung. Much of the analysis has focused on the most recent offseason dealing, but the Hawks’ declining trend (that sixth-best percentage in 2016 was a giveaway) can’t be ignored. Which brings us to the question, best not to be answered by Richmond or Carlton fans: how long should Hawks’ supporters tolerate a lack of success? If you’re Jeff Kennett, no time at all. But rebuilding in the AFL, now that we’re beyond the expansion era, should be a more orderly process.
2 Still Hawthorn-related: Sam Mitchell’s injury absence this week robs the footy-watching public of the delicious reunion of the Hawk-turned-Eagle and his old club. Worse still, it will be West Coast and Hawthorn’s only meeting of the season, which spares Mitchell of that awkward feeling looking across at his old team-mates.
3 A thought about another 0-4 side: the Swans also sit winless, and have the Sydney derby this weekend. The Swans are at pains to show they’re not panicking, and there’s some evidence to show that while their situation is not ideal, it’s not hopeless either. According to the scoring-shot metrics at the essential Matter of Stats website, Sydney has performed as the seventh-best side this season – three of its four losses have been to better sides, and the other was to another team at its level, Collingwood. It’s reasonable to believe John Longmire’s outfit will rebound, but there’s some bad new first – the GWS Giants are the top-ranked side, according to Matter of Stats.
4 One journalistic experience that didn’t disappoint was a sit-down with Kevin Sheedy a few years back, just after he had stepped down as GWS coach. He was still active with the Giants; indeed, he was buzzing around their then-new facility at Homebush. One ice-breaker question – “So what are you doing these days?” – led Sheeds to run out of the room, returning with a road atlas and his diary, where he then proceeded to go on an hour-long discourse about his grand plans for the AFL’s youngest club. The Anzac Day blockbuster was another product of Sheedy’s fertile imagination, and on a day when we’re encouraged to remember, we can’t help but be reminded of his creative mind.
5 Former Roo and Saint Nick Dal Santo, speaking from experience as an established footballer who switched clubs, sounded an astute warning about player movement in the new June edition of Inside Sport. “I know a lot of my mates don’t support NBA teams anymore – only players,” he says. “While I think the competition has matured to the point where fans expect an increased number of players leaving via free agency, I hope we never reach that extreme in the AFL.”