BOTP: An Early Millennium MCG Special

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As we continue on our joint journey of nostalgia to rid us of the current negativity surrounding the Hawks, we look at North Melbourne.

Considered Hawthorn’s first true rival during the 1970’s and early 1980’s, there have been a number of brutal and close games.

Whilst there were some classics during the three peat era, I wanted to venture a bit further into the past to my favourite season of AFL footy ever.

That season was 2001.

As a child, the VHS copy of the 2001 season highlights was a staple at my house, with me memorising every game and every result with this being a favourite.

It was Round 12 and after flying out of the blocks with an 8-0 start, the Hawks were now on a three game losing streak and looking to get back on the winners list.

Despite being 5-6, the Kangaroos had some serious talent all over the ground and were not going to make life easy for the confidence depleted Hawks.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, it was our boys who landed the first blow, kicking seven first quarter goals in a thirty minute blitz.

Daniel Chick set the tone early, kicking a first quarter goal and directly assisting on multiple more as North let him roam free on the members wing.

When Ben Dixon wheeled onto his right boot and dribbled one home from 30 metres out on the boundary, the Hawks were on, with Anthony Hudson’s “he tricked them, he went the wrong way” ringing out.

Hawthron players pause for a minute's silence in respect of those killed in New York and Washington on Tuesday before the semi final match between...
Who would’ve thought the Hawks would win the 2001 semi-final against Port Adelaide? Not even some fans | Getty Images

The boys in Brown and Gold went into quarter time with a very handy 29 point lead and dominating the game.

The second quarter turned into a genuine arm wrestle, with both teams kicking four goals and five behinds but that was as good as a win, as that near-five goal ascendency was maintained.

But this North Melbourne side had some premiership experience and were not going to let this game drag out into a 30 point loss anytime soon.

They wrestled back the momentum in the third quarter and managed to kick four goals to the Hawks two with some strong defensive football.

A massive Glenn Archer mark near the siren symbolised the shift towards North and the lead had been cut down to three straight kicks, 18 points.

Unsung hero Brett O’Farrell was the man keeping Hawthorn afloat, kicking both of the teams goals in the third quarter.

When Saverio Rocco goaled early in the last quarter to bring the deficit back to 12 points, it looked grim for the Hawks.

Hawthorn players run thru the banner at the start of the game against Brisbane during the round 13 AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and the...
It wasn’t a great game up at Brisbane in the 2001 home and away season but this Hawks group was built different | Getty Images

However, consecutive goals to Angelo Lekkas and Rayden Tallis ballooned the margin back out to 23 points with only 7 minutes left.

But North had one big surge left in them, kicking three goals in five minutes, leaving a painful 90 seconds on the clock for Hawthorn to cling to a three point lead.

Enter Jonathan Hay.

With merely seconds remaining on the clock, David King gathered the ball at speed heading towards goal.

Game on the line, Hay made a desperate lunge at the now Fox Footy analyst and brought him down, forcing the ball over the boundary in the process.

In the commotion, the siren blew and Hawthorn managed to hold on by just three points.

Nathan Thompson for Hawthorn walks from the field after his teams loss in the AFL Preliminary Final match played between the Essendon Bombers and the...
The 2001 season ended in heartbreaking fashion as the Dons got the rub of the green early and Croady’s poster… | Getty Images

Hawthorn: 15.11.101

North Melbourne: 14.14.98

It was a seriously balanced team effort from the Hawks, with only three players collecting more than 20 disposals, but 11 over 15 disposals.

The standout was Angelo Lekkas, with 21 disposals and three goals including a crucial one in the last quarter. 

Whilst the Hawks did not go on to win it all in 2001, this season holds a dear place in my heart, along with this game, one of the many heartstoppers.

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