Geelong midfielder Mitch Duncan has an uncanny connection with Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins on-field. But their relationship extends away from the football club as well. Duncan has penned this tribute to the 300-gamer for aflplayers.com.au.

Words from Mitch Duncan

When I first walked into Geelong, I didn’t know a heap about the players that I was going to play with.

I remember seeing this bloke who was as big as any man I’d seen before. It was just his height and physical size that jumped out to me at the start.

It probably wasn’t until my third or fourth year where I started to develop better relationships with the older guys like Tom.

‘Hawk’ and I naturally gravitated closer and closer as our interests are similar and our wives became really good friends.

Our friendship grew stronger both on and off the field and then since we both have had kids around similar stages of our lives, it has been really special to be on this Dad journey with him.  

Tom’s just an all-round good bloke, a very caring person on both a football and personal level.

His ability to connect in a team environment is unique and something that we are extremely lucky to have at the Geelong Football Club. His ability to work hard and then switch off when the time is right is a strength of his that has allowed him to reach this milestone of 300 games.

Tom’s a very smart footballer, his ability to understand what’s going on up the field allows him to position himself correctly more times than not, not all players can do this when they play in front of the footy.

He reads the space quicker than most and I love nothing more than delivering one on his chest.

Sometimes you miskick it, but he ends up using his strength and power and makes you look good on more occasions than not. When a crucial goal needs to be kicked. Tom is someone that always stands up and delivers.

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His consistency and durability really stands out and that’s why he’s able to compete at such a high level still and that’s what makes him one of the best.

Hawk’s an integral part of our side and has been for a long period of time. Although not having an official leadership title he is one of our best leaders and someone you love having at your football club. We are very lucky!

Tom’s always been a farmer at heart.

In my early days I thought he was destined for the city, but he went back to his roots and hasn’t looked back after setting up shop just outside Geelong.

The farm has been great for the boys at the club to enjoy, whether it’s helping him put up fences, round up the cattle or getting together as a group for a bonfire.

Tom Hawkins and Joel Selwood chair off Mitch Duncan

Between his projects at the farm, his wife Emma and his two girls (Arabella & Primrose), his work-life balance has helped him achieve what he has today and continue to play the type of footy he is currently playing.

Another thing I admire about Tom is how much of a family man he is to his girls. He is ‘Mr Romantic’, always showing us other boys up!

I’m lucky enough to call Hawk one of my best mates. He was in my wedding party, our kids get on great and I have no doubt our bond will continue once footy comes to an end.

Without wishing anything away, I already look forward to sitting out on the farm or having a round of golf, reminiscing about those ‘footy days’ over a few cold ones.

I’m really looking forward to celebrating him reach 300 games and can’t wait to be a part of it!!