The May meeting that made Hawthorn bloom, 50 years on


The skipper David Parkin recalls that Kennedy, Parkin’s revered predecessor as Hawthorn coach, had never asked the players for their view so his teammates weren’t exactly scrambling to answer his question. Even the captain thought it might be a wise time to keep one’s counsel.

Suddenly Hudson, the modest Tasmanian who had already kicked a staggering 342 goals in his first 62 games for the Hawks, spoke up, suggesting that if the midfielders moved it forward to him a little quicker and took a look before they kicked, the team might benefit.

Hudson spoke up in the meeting.Credit:The Age

According to Parkin, the late premiership star Des Meagher didn’t appreciate the well-meaning advice at the time and told Hudson in no uncertain terms that if he wasn’t satisfied with the delivery then perhaps he should move up to the middle and get a kick for himself.

Kennedy immediately called the meeting to a halt and that was that.

Except that it wasn’t that at all, as Hudson took 15 marks and kicked 13 goals that week against South Melbourne (and Meagher had 24 disposals) to start the Hawks on a mini-roll as they won four matches in a row. With belief back they won 10 for the season to finish eighth with the third highest percentage and a few handy players in Leigh Matthews, Peter Knights and Alan Martello passing the 10-game mark.

Hudson finished the season with 146 goals, a forerunner to his record-equalling 150 goals in 1971 (with South Melbourne’s Bob Pratt) when the Hawks won 21 of their 24 matches to win the flag with Parkin and Meagher in the team.

Hudson, who was great mates with Meagher until he died in 2011, confirmed the story with a wry “there might be an element of truth in that”. He chuckled as he said that in those days no one was too concerned by a bit of direct feedback.

Of course, since that meeting Hawthorn have won 12 flags to become a competition powerhouse, with Kennedy symbolic of everything the Hawks stand for, Parkin a Hawks premiership coach and captain, and Hudson an Australian Football Hall of Fame legend who kicked 727 goals in 129 games, averaging 5.64 goals a game.

Straight-shooter

Now it would be a little cute to write ‘speaking of goalkickers’ when following on from Hudson with a fact about Essendon’s Will Snelling, but credit where credit is due for the Bomber who revived his career in last year’s mid-season draft.

Snelling just can’t miss in his AFL career, having not kicked a behind since he kicked his first goal in AFL football on debut for Port Adelaide way back in 2016. Never mind that he did not play a game in 2017 or 2018 before he returned to action in round 18 last season, because the fact remains his accuracy has lasted nearly five seasons.

Snelling has now kicked 7.0 in six games and only been held goalless in one match.

VAFA games record becomes a talking point

Last week Snap Shot spoke to Old Peninsula’s Shaun Payze about being stranded on 399 senior games due to the coronavirus shutdown and made the point that he still had to play 10 games to pass the record of Old Paradian Peter Brabender’s record as stated on the VAFA’s website, which this column put, we admit, a little too much trust in.

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Well, that created the classic delve into the records amid claims – which turned out to be correct – that Brabender had played 428 games during his illustrious career. Under VAFA rules the tally is made up of senior, representative and under-19s games, so with Brabender having played 375 senior games and 53 under-19s he holds the record. It’s an unusual system but that’s local football for you and Payze was not fussed one bit when Snap Shot contacted him to share the news.

It seems these blokes who play amateur footy for a long time play for the love of the game rather than records. Isn’t that something worth celebrating!

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