If there was any question that the Geelong – Hawthorn rivalry of the past decade still burns brightly down at GMHBA Stadium, Tom Hawkins’ comments on this week’s To the Final Bell podcast will lay it to rest.
While there has been plenty of epic tussles in recent times, the rivalry has a long and spicy history, the first sparks that can perhaps be traced to late 1963 were then Geelong coach Bob Davis called John Kennedy’s Hawks “the worst and dirtiest team I have ever seen” after a particularly salty final round game between the two sides. The Cats would of course enjoy the last laugh that year, enjoying a 49-point win in the ’63 Grand Final
For Tom Hawkins, who has played 24 of his 279 career games against the Hawks, the most of all opposition clubs, the spirit of ’63 is still very much alive down at Kardinia Park.
“I cherish playing in these games more so now because of the players and people that were around instilled it into me that Easter Monday at the MCG against Hawthorn… they’re such big games,” he told To the Final Bell.
“So looking back, and even now as a player, you try and take each game as it comes but there was something – whether it was the process of the way we did things, whether it was the coaches and teammates, it was probably a combination of everyone, but we would just build games up and they instilled that into me.”
It’s a tradition and a message that he and other veteran Cats work hard to pass on to the next generation of Cats coming through.
“I find that Joel (Selwood) and I, and even Harry (Taylor) in the last few years, Blitz (Mark Blicavs) and Mitch (Duncan), we try and instil it into our young guys now.”
Hawkins will spend the days in the lead up to the game the same way a lot of families will, with the traditional Easter Egg hunt with friends.
The challenge for big forward, however, will be curbing his chocolate intake.
“It’s arguably the hardest time of the year for me,” he told hosts Cameron Ling and Scott Gullan.
“I’ve got a nickname that gets bandied around the footy club – Tim Tam Tommy – I said to one of my old teammates once that I eat a whole packet or two of Tim Tams before the game and depending on how many I eat is how many goals I’m going to kick.”
Maybe letting the big man indulge a bit over the next couple of days isn’t such a bad thing.