BOTP: A Prelude to the Toughest Grand Final

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While the Easter Monday clash between the Hawks and the Cats has been a staple since 2009 and produced some of the best home and away games you will see, I want to venture back a bit further than that.

In a game that is spoken about nowhere near enough by the national media, this is genuinely one of the craziest and highest quality football games ever played.

It was the year 1989 and the Hawks were at the peak of their powers, coming off a then record Grand Final win over Melbourne, with a 96 point demolition.

After losing in the first round, Hawthorn won their next four games by an average winning margin of 53 points and came into Round Six of 1989 firing on all cylinders.

In their way was a young Geelong side, who under Malcolm Blight played by the mantra “kick goals and kick plenty of them”. A simpler time!

This couldn’t have been more accurate in this game, with the combined score of the two teams a ridiculous 334 points.

It was the Cats who set the attacking tone early, kicking eight first quarter goals with the forward line of Gary Ablett Sr, Billy Brownless, Gavin Exell and Barry Stoneham wreaking havoc on the Hawthorn back six.

Not to be outshone, the forward line of the Hawks had some names with Jason Dunstall, Dermott Brereton, Gary Buckenara and Tony Hall spelling danger.

The 17,430 fans at Princes Park this Saturday afternoon were treated to a 26 goal first half, with the ball flying up and down the ground at breakneck speed.


Hawthorn Team 1989
Hawthorn Team 1989 |

Unfortunately for the fans wearing Brown and Gold, 17 of those 26 were Geelong goals and legendary coach Allen “Yabbie” Jeans knew something had to change.

He turned to Gary Ayres, the two time norm medallist and backline general, moving his magnet into the middle of the ground, hoping for a spark, of which a spark was received.

A team effort then transpired in the third, thanks to a rejuvenated midfield and a forward line firing.

Coming back from 49 points at half time is a near impossible task, but with the star power in this Hawthorn outfit, you could never count them out.

The third quarter of the Hawks proved why they were such an incredible team, kicking seven goals to the Cats two to reduce the margin from 49 to just 19.

Ayres’ move into the midfield was key, with John Platten getting off the chain and doing what he did best, as well as Darrin Pritchard on the wing.

The last quarter was some of the best football ever seen on a professional field.


Sponsor Jai Newcombe Denver Grainger-Barras and Jas Fleming with Talking Hawks in 2023

16 goals in total, lightning fast speed from the backline, midfield and forward lines, along with big time clutch moments.

Luckily for the Brown and Gold, 10 of the 16 last quarter goals belonged to them resulting in a frantic eight point victory.

Hawthorn: 26.15.171
Geelong: 25.13.163

With the massive goal tally, you would be right in assuming there was a Dunstall bag of 10 plus, or a Brereton day, but it was a really even spread of goal kickers.

Brereton and Gary Buckenara snagged five each, Dunstall was held quiet with four (how bizarre would that sound for players these days) and Tony Hall, Dean Anderson and James “The Freak” Morrisey also kicking multiple goals.

As mentioned throughout the piece, Gary Ayres was the catalyst for this comeback victory, putting in a best on ground performance of 30 disposals and a goal.

As some of you may have heard, these two teams would go onto play another pretty good game of footy in the 1989 season, with our Hawks once again taking the chocolates there!

While we love to speak about the modern day rivalry between Geelong and rightly so, the 1989 season between these two teams is the stuff of legend.

Also, Dermy coming off a ruck contest and collecting Mark Yeates in an area that’s only meant to be treated nicely was the catalyst for an epic centre bounce, only a few months later.


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