The Hawthorn Football Club has had a cavalcade of exceptional captains throughout its history; David Parkin, Don Scott, Peter Crimmins, Michael Tuck, Shane Crawford, Jason Dunstall, Sam Mitchell and Luke Hodge.
Between 2017 and 2020, we saw premiership heroes Jarryd Roughead and Ben Stratton be given the captaincy roles as we transitioned from our glory years.
In 2021, Ben ‘Big Boy’ McEvoy was given the coveted title of captain, which had defied recent trends. Hawthorn since 1945 had given the captaincy to players who were only one club players.
Ben led by example, giving his best efforts week in and week out. He was the ultimate team player throughout his two-year transitional tenure as captain.
With Big Boy now retired, the challenge now turns to the decision of selecting a captain who will be there for the rise up the ladder towards premiership glory. A captain who will not be transitional but will be there leading from the front for the foreseeable future.
Let’s look at some of the candidates who could fill the enviable task of being the Captain of the Hawthorn Football Club.
Tom Mitchell is one of the leaders of our midfield group who has a wealth of experience, having been a Brownlow medalist, been selected in All Australian teams and also playing in a grand final in 2016.
Since his return from a broken leg in the 2020 season, Tom has been viewed by those within the walls of the club and also those in the media as being a leader who is always willing to help the younger players at the club to achieve their best.
Interestingly, earlier this year when the team had rotational captains in McEvoy’s absence, the 29-year-old was overlooked, which might go against him being a front runner for the title of captain.
Jaeger is incredibly well-spoken, fronts press conferences throughout the week and post-game to give fans an insight and is also used as one of the promotional models for Hawksnest.
Onfield, has been asked to take up a new role to better benefit the team and this shows how he is a team-first player which is an excellent quality to have in a captain at the club.
One concern for Jaeger receiving the captaincy is his body, which has seen him miss games throughout the season.
However, this year he looks like he has been able to overcome some of the knee soreness that has impacted him in his time at Hawthorn.
Out of contract at the end of 2023, the soon to be 29 year old would need to sign a contract extension to make sure he isn’t a transitional captain. One of the front-running candidates for the position.
The reformed bad boy of the group, James Sicily often had a reputation as a younger player that he was too fiery and needed help in keeping his emotions in check.
Since returning to the side after his knee reconstruction, he has been a model citizen who has taken his game to another level.
Viewed highly by those within the club as having excellent leadership credentials and having this year signed a new 5-year contract, Sicily is a big part of the club’s future and was given the role of captain as part of the rotational captaincy that occurred in McEvoy’s absence.
The soon to be 28 year old speaks well to the media when doing interviews and onfield plays with natural aggression and lets his actions do the talking, and Leading contender for the coveted position of captain.
Hardwick is a no-nonsense hard-as-nails small defender who has a team-first attitude. This year he has curtailed his ball-playing skills to concentrate on being the lockdown defender for the opposition team’s best forwards.
He is tough at the contest, never shirking a task and leads by example through his actions on the field.
He is one of the leaders of the backline and can be seen on game day directing his fellow defenders during general play and also after a goal has been kicked.
He is first in to defend a teammate when they are in a spot of bother and has the ruthless aggression and combative nature that our past leaders like Luke Hodge and Richie Vandenburg had.
The 26-year-old, 124-game veteran is signed until the end of 2024 and still being at a young age could become a captain for the foreseeable future. Real heart and soul player who would do the role proudly and with aplomb.
Long spoken about as being a future leader of the Hawthorn Football Club, James, unfortunately, had a very messy 2022.
Started the season struggling to find his place in a rebuilding young team, was dropped to the reserves and then returned for the GWS game before dislocating his shoulder and missing the rest of the season due to his injury.
At present, while trying to overcome his shoulder surgery and work his way back into the team, the role of being the captain would likely be a burden for him and at 24 years of age at the commencement of the 2023 season, he could still have an opportunity to lead the club down the track.
If I was selecting the future captain of the Hawthorn Football Club, my vote would be for Blake Hardwick. He has similar traits to our former general in the #15 guernsey in Luke Hodge and he is the type of player you’d want fighting for your life.
He plays with aggression and heart, which are hallmarks of the unsociable Hawks culture we have been revered for around the league.
He hates being defeated and he leads by example, which is vitally important for a young rebuilding team who has a wave of youth that are impressionable.