Big Boy’s Big Milestone

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This coming weekend, Ben McEvoy joins the illustrious 250 club when he leads the Hawks out to battle against the Gold Coast Suns at UTAS Stadium in Launceston, our home away from home.

It’s a fantastic milestone for him to achieve, having pulled on the Brown and Gold guernsey 159 times, especially when you consider the serious neck fracture he received at training earlier this year that kept him out for three months. 

Ben joined the Hawthorn Football Club at the end of the 2013 season during the trade period.

The #9 pick in the 2007 draft was the St Kilda ruckman at the time and Hawthorn were looking for a high quality replacement to cover the position that had become vacant with the retirement of premiership player Max Bailey.

The Hawks at the time were said to be keen on young Brisbane ruckman Billy Longer. 

However, the Hawks pulled a trade shock when they traded young midfielder Shane Savage and Pick 17 to St Kilda in exchange for McEvoy’s services. 

That Pick 17 became 18 and St.Kilda used it on Luke Dunstan. 

Shane Savage played some good football but the Hawks fleeced that deal. 

In 2014, fans saw Big Boy in and out of the team, struggling with form and injury where he played a total of 13 games for the season. 

He was an emergency for the preliminary final against Port Adelaide but was then given a shock recall for the Grand Final, with Jonathan Ceglar omitted.

One of the moments of the Grand Final was early in the game where Big Boy went back with the flight of the ball and canonned into Lewis Jetta, showing that he wasn’t going to miss his opportunity to play his part on the big day, finishing with 15 disposals and 14 hit-outs

2015 saw the 200cm ruckman play 19 games for the season, including the 2015 Grand Final where he was able to use his exceptional ruck craft and nous to nullify the form ruckman of the competition in Nic Naitanui, by kicking a goal and having 20 hit-outs. 

At the end of 2020, with the retirement of Ben Stratton, McEvoy was selected by the players at the club to become captain of the team, which admittedly was a shock to pockets of fans. 

The honour was remarkable for he was the first captain of the club to be a ruckman since Don Scott in 1980, while also being the first player since Keith Shea in 1945 to have been named captain after plying his trade at another club.

Ben McEvoy of the Hawks thanks fans after winning the round 13 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Hawthorn Hawks at Sydney Cricket Ground on...
Big Boy’s leadership has been profound at the Hawks | Getty Images

He has lead through his actions on and off the field, setting high standards at training for the team to adhere to, while also continuing to build the tradition of the club as being “The Family Club”, through his interactions with fans at training sessions and on game day.

On the field, the man bleeds brown and gold and we are better for it. 

He often comes off the field beaten and busted, head adorned in white strapping tape to cover the newest scar earned on the battlefield.

He imparts wisdom in his game day addresses and is able to know when he is needed to go back and help out in defence or to push forward and use his 101 kilograms to take a big contested mark.

He is the ultimate team player, as could be seen during the 2020 season where he was willing to sacrifice his ruck game and learn to become a defender, when he played as the club’s centre half back to enable Jonathan Ceglar to play more game time as a ruckman.

Throughout this season we have missed McEvoy’s onfield leadership and this was particularly evident in our losses to Carlton, Richmond, Melbourne and Collingwood, where we needed more composure at points in the game which could’ve lead to a win.

Since his return from injury against Adelaide, McEvoy has made his presence felt on the ground and has been important in helping our young team to keep their composure, as was evident against the West Coast Eagles, with 21 hit-outs and 15 disposals. 

Big Boy has also shown that with him on the field, we will never surrender and fold as he gives his blood, sweat and tears, literally and figuratively, until that final siren. 

Ben McEvoy of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the 2019 AFL round 16 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne...
For a ruckman, McEvoy is deadly in front of goal, kicking 101.42 in his career. | Getty Images

This was epitomised against St Kilda last weekend, with the team down by 48 points, the skipper rolled up his sleeves and dragged the team with him.

In the final quarter he had five touches, six hit outs and kicked a big goal to give the Hawks a sniff. 

He was found everywhere on the park, using his massive tank to get back and take relieving marks in defence before clunking marks and making contests up forward.

With just the three games to go in the season and with Big Boy off contract at seasons end, the Hawks need him to sign on for another year.

While he is the tender age of 33 and in the twilight of his career, his experience, attitude and endeavour are qualities that are needed in a young team that is rebuilding. 

When McEvoy plays, the rest of the team walk taller and look for his guidance to assist them to continue to get the best out of themselves on game day. 

His ruck knowledge is invaluable to our young ruck brigade of Ned Reeves, Max Lynch and Max Ramsden and whilst the on field nous will be key, the trio of next generation Hawks will learn all about professionalism and how to be a Hawk, the right way. 

Big Boy is a testament to the notion that through hard work and effort that one can achieve their absolute best and as supporters we have been luck to have witnessed this in his nine seasons to date at Hawthorn, with hopefully a 10th to come next year.

Ben McEvoy of the Hawks looks on during the 2017 JLT Community Series match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Geelong Cats at University of Tasmania...
Nothing will sum up McEvoy’s fighting spirit more than being bandaged in the heat of battle | Getty Images

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