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The 1976 Flag - The Bittersweet Premiership

Discussion in 'Hawthorn' started by grizzlym, Dec 21, 2009.

Put it out there
  1. grizzlym

    grizzlym Admin

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    Rock on 1976.

    Well, with Barry Manilow, Bay City Rollers and Wings burning up the charts, rock is probably not the right word. But that’s the mid-70s for you. A cultural paradox wrapped in a tasteless riddle where fey music met alpha males, and hideous things eventuated.

    Make no mistake: men of the mid-70s were macho men. There’s no ambiguity unless of course you’re talking about the Village People. Hell, even Elton John pretended he was kind of straight.

    Men of the 70s had moustaches so large that Australia Post issued them with their own postcodes. And 1976 saw the celluloid debut of the biggest macho man of them all – Rocky.

    Yep, Sly Stallone put it all together and put that porno behind him (so to speak) to write, direct and star in the movie that launched him into the Hollywood stratosphere.

    How apt that Rocky spawned numerous sequels because so did the 1976 flag for the Hawks. And unlike the Sly One’s diminishing quality, we just kept amping it up.

    [youtube]m8DlBN_LLiA[/youtube]

    Speaking of stratosphere, the USA successfully landed a couple of remote-controlled cars on Mars in 1976. While back on earth the Concorde enters service flying between Tasmania and Melbourne - in preparation for Huddo's imminent return. But most importantly, the VHS recorder is introduced and almost overnight the porn industry get a huge jolt of Viagra and new suburbs of Canberra spring-up overnight.

    And then there was VFL footy and the 1976 Flag.

    To lapse into seriousness for one moment, 1976 was arguably the most emotional, bittersweet, culturally defining flag for Hawthorn. Every flag is a moment to cherish and celebrate, but this flag was more poignant not just for what we won, but what we lost.

    What a flag it was, like Rocky, it was a tale of adversity and struggle, dedication, great talent and, finally, victory coupled with redemption, which was glorious but later tinged with a sadness that still echoes through the club today. Because while we won the flag with a side containing some of the greats of the club, the man who was the heartbeat of the club was at death's door.

    Some people maintain - my father included - that the Little Fella could have been the finest of the 1970s crop. We will never know. Perhaps some posters may care to venture an opinion on this thread.

    We won, but we lost. A pyrrhic victory befitting a Greek tragedy.

    All of the ingredients were present for a great game: 12 all-time greats across both sides; a dying champion; two master coaches. This was the apotheosis of 1970's footy.

    So knowing the lay of the land, one man was brave enough to take up the challenge.

    Thanks Rusty.

    Over the past few weeks, Rusty's RAM modules groaned into action, kick-starting that great internal hard-drive in his head, which in turn spat-out words like a first generation daisy wheel printer - in a slow, methodical and precise manner. (By the way, Apple computers were founded in 1976 and the first laser printer introduced too.)

    After Rusty's epic, consideration should be given to changing his name to Stainless Steel Hawk.

    Let the Rusty begin.

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  2. RustyHawk

    RustyHawk BFSC Platinum

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    1976 Grand Final

    “Do it for the little fella”

    1. Introduction

    2. Football then & now

    3. The Hawthorn / North rivalry

    4. The teams

    5. The game

    6. The aftermath

    The VFL’s 80th grand final

    1. Introduction

    Hello, it is my honor to relive the events of the last Saturday in September 1976, culminating in Hawthorn winning their third VFL/AFL Grand Final.

    I don’t want to just recount the actual game, but also give an insight into the history of the two clubs - Hawthorn and North - going into the game and to the very important events that soon turned the joy of winning into sorrow with the passing of Peter Crimmens.

    Finally, I want to give you an idea about football in the 1970s. Turn your minds back to our most recent Grand Final in 2008 - that warm sunny day at the G. Well, the corresponding day back in 1976 was very similar, but the rules and the way the game was played was very different.



    2. Football then and now

    > Substitute players

    Back in 1976 there was no interchange bench, just a 19th and 20th man. Those players substituted once per game.

    Now, remember the 1976 Grand Final was warm and sunny. And when the game was over, 17 Hawthorn players had spent the full 100 minutes on the ground. I wonder how our modern footballers would go in that heat with no respite?

    > What rotations?

    No luxury of having Bob Campbell swapping with Simon Taylor on the bench. This meant the resting or second ruck and second rover generally played in the respective forward pockets, and the resting ruck rover played down the back pocket on the resting ruckman.

    > Two umpires.

    Due to the speed of the game increasing, the VFL changed the number of field umpires from one to two. The 1976 game was the first Grand Final to feature this arrangement.

    > Watching the game.

    No 50-metre line out from the goals. The centre square is in play - there were 4 infringements in the first half, two to each team - but no circle for the ruckman. I must also add, that the umpires’ bounces were terrible.

    Also, the MCG still had the centre wicket area, which meant the centre square was largely devoid of grass. Good on a warm day like this grand final, but if it had been raining, the ground would have been a lot different.

    3. The Hawthorn North Melbourne Rivalry – “Don’t think, Do!”

    During the 1976 season North’s coach Ronald Barassi accused Hawthorn coach John Kennedy Snr of waging a vendetta against his club. “You’re right”, observed Kennedy, “except I don’t think vendetta is a strong enough word.” Page 148, One for All.

    The vendetta was a result of Hawthorn’s poor performance in the previous year’s Grand Final and the turmoil the club went through at the selection table. I’m sure all Hawk supporters of this era will remember the emotional debate over Captain Peter Crimmins declaration that he was fit to play after playing 5 reserve games, including one final. In their wisdom, the selectors decided to leave the Little Fella out of the 1975 Grand Final team. The selection committee was divided by this decision as were the supporters.

    I, for one, was hoping that Crimmo would play, should play, and felt a little deflated when he was left out. In fact, other than the merger debate it was arguably one of the most difficult decisions the club’s ever had to make.

    The other selection, which turned out to be a nightmare, was that of rookie full forward Michael Cooke. Cooke only played 2 games for the Hawks, both finals. In the semis he kicked 4 goals and seemed to be the answer at full forward – North had Doug Wade, the ex-Geelong gun goal kicker. In the Grand Final, Cooke was dragged after failing to win a kick while Wade went on to be one of North’s best.

    The 1975 Grand Final was also the ‘Don’t think, Do!’ speech by John Kennedy. In an article by Glenn McFarlane (December 14, 2008 ) “Kennedy recalled, "We had some academics in the team who did a lot of thinking, so I, more or less in exasperation, said 'Don't think, do!'."

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/jk-still-a-grand-master/story-0-1111118306757

    1976 Season – a snapshot

    · During the 1976 season Hawthorn played North in two home and away games - winning by 22 and 8 points respectively, and then defeated the Kangaroos in the Qualifying final by 20 points.

    · At the end of the Home and Away season, Carlton sat atop the ladder with 16 wins-5 losses-1 draw. Hawthorn was second with 16 wins-6 losses. The Kangaroos were next with 15 wins-7 losses. Geelong and Footscray made up the final 5.

    · The percentages were interesting with Hawks top for points scored’ with 2323, but middle of the road in defence with 2035 against. The Kangaroos, on the other hand, were better in defence with 2041 points for, but only 1748 points against.

    · Big Larry Donohue from Geelong won, what is now called the Coleman medal, with a total of 105 goals for the season.

    · Essendon Big Man Graham Moss won the Brownlow.

    · Collingwood finished the season with the wooden spoon.

    · Hawthorn beat Carlton in the 2nd Semi to advance to the Grand Final. The next week the Kangaroos defeated Carlton by 1 solitary point to advance to their third Grand Final in a row.

    · The scene was set for the 1976 Grand Final.
  3. RustyHawk

    RustyHawk BFSC Platinum

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    4. The Teams

    Unlike 1975, there were no real selection problems.

    1976 Hawthorn Grand Final team

    Coach: John Kennedy Snr

    Backs: 11. Brian Douge 15. Kelvin Moore 31. Bernie Jones

    Half B: 20. Ian Bremner 24. Peter Knights 8. David O’Halloran

    Centre: 2. Geoff Ablett 22. Barry Rowlings 26. Rodney Eade

    Half F: 10. David Polkinghorne 14. Alan Martello 4. Kelvin Matthews

    Fwds: 6. Michael Moncreiff 25. John Hendrie 19. Alan Goad

    Rucks: 23. Don Scott© 17. Michael Tuck 3. Leigh Matthews vc

    19th : 13. Leon Rice 20th Man: 43: Peter Murnane



    1976 North Melbourne team

    Coach: Ronald Barassi

    Backs: John Byrnes David Dench Frank Gumbleton

    Half B: Steven Icke Gary Cowton Darryl Sutton

    Centre: Paul Feltham John Burns Keith Greig ©

    Half F: Malcolm Blight Terry Moore Wayne Schimmelbusch

    Fwds: Peter Keenan Peter Chisnall Graeme Melrose

    Rucks: Mick Nolan Mark Dawson Barry Cable

    19th Brent Crosswell 20th Ross Henshaw.


    Changes from 1975 Grand Final teams

    Both teams made six changes to their respective teams from the 1975 Grand Final.

    Out for Hawthorn

    1. Bodan Jaworskyj – tough half back flanker who left Hawthorn after the 1975 season.

    2. Peter Welsh – tough back pocket player. Played 18 games in 1976, later joined 3 of the 1976 winning team who moved to Richmond - Martello, Rowlings and Geoff Ablett.

    3. Stuart Trott – fast wingman who transferred over from the Saints. Only 3 games in 1976.

    4. Shane Murphy – half forward who played the last 3 games of 1975 including the Grand Final. Could manage only 4 games in 1976.

    5. Michael Cooke – the controversial selection as full forward in 1975. Played just the 2 games for Hawthorn

    6. Des Meagher – long-term servant of the Hawks who played only 3 games in 1975, including the Grand Final. Managed 17 games in 1976, but did not make the Grand Final team. Des retired at season’s end.

    Replacing them:

    Brian Douge – blonde, tough back pocket. One of 3 blondes in the backline. The other two being Peter Knights and Ian Bremner.

    David O’Halloran – tough-as-nails key defender. Started his career at Hawthorn in 1976 and played all 25 games. Would go through to the 1985 season with the Hawks.

    Barry Rowlings –very quick centreman, come second rover. Second year at the Hawks.

    ‘Rocket’ Rodney Eade from Tasmania and current Western Bulldogs senior coach. His first year at Hawthorn and given THE jumper - number 26 for another famous Taswegien Mr. Peter Hudson.

    David Polkinghorne. Listed as a half forward, but to me was always a half back. Strangest kicking style. Gull wing style with both arms jutting out like wings as the ball was dropped to the foot. A gutsy footballer who got the job done.

    Peter Murnane. Chalk and cheese comparing David Polkinghorne’s kicking action to the beautiful style of Peter Murnane. Precise kick of the ball. Poetry in motion, very graceful.

    Hawthorn Team of the Century Representatives

    Five Hawthorn players from the 1976 grand final team would go on and be named in the Hawthorn team of the century:

    · Kelvin Moore

    · Peter Knights

    · Don Scott

    · Michael Tuck

    · Leigh Matthews

    Six players in this team also played in the 1971 Grand Final.

    Scott, Matthews, Martello, Rice, Bremner and Moore

    North lost:

    1. John Rantall. The ex-Swan who came over in 1973 as part of the ‘buy a premiership team’ and left at end of 75. One of their best in 1975 Grand Final.

    2. Gary Farrent. Who, for the life of me, I don’t recall.

    3. Barry Goodingham. Big loss for North. Tall, serviceable second ruck, something they lacked in 1976. Left the Kangas for the Swans.

    4. Doug Wade. Full Forward. Ex-Cat who came over when North bought their premiership. Retired.

    5. Sam Kekovich – he of ‘feed the man lamb’ ads. Either overlooked or injured.

    6. Arnold Briedis. Another big loss. Talented half forward. Only managed 4 games in 1976.

    Shinboner Team of the Century

    The Kangaroos 1976 team that played in the Grand Final included the following 6 players who were named in their team of the century:

    · Malcolm Blight

    · Wayne Schimmelbusch

    · David Dench

    · Keith Greig

    · Barry Cable

    · Brent Crosswell

    The Coaches

    This game was coached by two AFL Legends – Kennedy and Barassi.

    Ronald Dale Barassi

    At the time, Barassi was a 3-time Premiership coach with two teams and would go on to win the 1977 Grand Final replay against Collingwood for his fourth Premiership as a coach. His appointment as North coach for the 1973 season was seen as something of a coup for the Kangaroos. Soon joining Barassi at North would be a group of talented long-term footballers with North exploiting the 10-year rule. Barassi took over bottom-placed North in 1972, and guided them to the 1974 Grand Final, only to lose. In 1975, Barassi would give North their first Grand Final win against Hawthorn.

    John Kennedy Snr

    A two-time Grand Final winning coach (about to become a 3-time Premiership coach), this would be John Kennedy’s last game as coach of the Hawthorn Football Club as he stepped down after the Grand Final win. David Parkin, 1971 Grand Final Captain, took over for the 1977 season. John Kennedy Snr would later take over as senior North Melbourne coach from 1985 – 1989. The Herald’s Chief football writer Alf Brown said of Kennedy at his testimonial dinner that “…he lifted Hawthorn from a league joke to a club to be feared and respected.” Page 151 One for All

    Assistant Coach: David Parkin

    Specialist coach John O’Mahoney

    The Umpires

    Season 1976 saw the introduction of two field umpires officiating in a game.

    Grand Final umpires:

    Bill Dellar. His second VFL Grand Final as an umpire, Bill Dellar would go onto umpire 3 more Grand Finals before retiring and later became the AFL’s National Director of umpires. Bill started umpiring in 1967 and was an experienced umpire. Total 251 games.

    Kevin Smith. Went on to umpire 303 games of senior football and 4 Grand Finals.



    Match-ups.

    The Rucks

    Each team went into the game with 3 ruckman. One ruckman played Centre Half Forward, 1 rested in the forward line and 1 played on the ball.

    Hawthorn ruckmen

    Don Scott, Bernie Jones & Alan Martello

    Versus

    North’s tall timber

    Mick Nolan, Peter Keenan & Terry Moore.

    · Terry Moore would later cross over to Hawthorn in 1979 for two years

    · Martello and Moore where the respective Centre Half Forwards for each team.

    · Martello kicked 20 goals for the season versus Moore who kicked just 11 goals.

    Don Scott

    Scotty was a true warrior, and at 28 years of age, right at his football peak. He would spend a large amount of time roaming our forward line causing terror to the unfortunate North defenders. Remember the North defence was one of the best in the league. But with Don Scott playing forward he gave them something to think about and more.

    Bernie Jones

    Bernie was something else. A tall gangly fellow who made supporters cover their eyes and say a small prayer every time he went to kick the ball. As uncoordinated as he might have appeared he was very effective in this game and really stood up. He battled hard against Big Mick Nolan and allowed Scott to roam around our forward line.

    Alan Martello.

    I must admit I was never a Martello fan. Always upset me by his need to juggle the ball when marking. Instead of just taking the ball cleanly he would bobble it around in his hands for about 3 turns before securing the ball, making it possible for a good defender to have 2 or even 3 shots at knocking the ball away.

    This game did not start well for AM. I counted the first 5 possessions as complete errors. The good news was by the end of the second quarter Big Al started to play some good, in fact, really good football. When North challenged in the third and fourth quarter he stepped up and did his bit and more.

    Mick Nolan.

    The big north ruckman looked everything but a fine VFL footballer. Called the “Galloping Gasometer”, his size belied his ability to run, mark, tackle, jump and contest. Nolan is one North player who can say he did his best in 1976. Doing most of the ruck work, by the last quarter he simply ran out of legs, but sheer will power carried him on but he was a spent force.

    Peter ‘Crackers’ Keenan.

    Lived up to the name in this game. North really missed Barry Goodingham. Not necessarily a great ruckman but certainly a good back up to Mick Nolan. Keenan had North’s first shot at goal and kicked it out of bounds. Strange that Barassi seemed to like this sort of player. Along with Cowton, and to a lesser extent Crosswell, these players drifted in and out of the game.

    Terry Moore the third North tall just didn’t have the physical presence either in the ruck or around the ground to be anymore than a nuisance.

    The Rovers

    Leigh Matthews, Barry Rowlings, Alan Goad

    Versus

    Barry Cable & Graham Melrose

    Leigh Matthews

    Lethal won the Coleman medal in 1975 and was as much a second full forward as an on-baller. Tough as. Watching this game shows the true brilliance of Matthews with his twisting and turning as well as his sheer warrior behavior. His two brutal hits on North Captain Keith Greig were as hard as you are ever likely to see. The second was similar to Gary Ablett Snr’s hit on Dipper in the 1989 Grand Final – the biggest crash into the back of a player I’ve ever seen.

    The others

    Whereas, Barry Rowling was the dashing young rover with superb skills. And Alan Goad, with his Donny Osmond hair, provided most efficient support both on the ball and in the forward pocket.

    Barry Cable was an out-and-out champion who fought hard for his team. Graham Melrose played a good support role.



    The Full Backs

    Those watching were blessed at seeing two of the three greatest full backs in action.

    Hawthorn’s Kelvin Moore and North’s David Dench (along with Carlton’s Geoff Southby who obviously wasn’t playing) stood apart from the rest through their sheer ability to stay on their feet, keep their composure and be the rock in the very last line of defence. Rarely caught out of position they always provided the steady hand for their respective teams.

    Centre Half Backs:

    Peter Knights v Gary Cowton. The most noticeable difference was the Peter Knights was a true champion footballer where as Cowton would have been a fine country footballer. He could drift in and out of a game, not to mention indulge in some antics if he was bored, but in the world of the VFL he was IMHO exposed. His skills, pace and delivery were just off those of a decent VFL footballer.

    Peter Knights was superb in this game. He missed the 1971 Grand Final through injury. Played in the losing 1975 Grand Final, but this was to be his game. His attack on the ball, his marking, especially overhead was a true delight to every football fan not just Hawthorn. His pace, courage and anticipation combined with his exceptional marking ability made him the ideal CHB.

    The Backs

    The Hawthorn backline had the very experienced Ian Bremner next to Knightsy. Along with David O’halloran, it made it very, very difficult for North to break through.

    Statistically the North backline was second best for the 1976 season behind Carlton. The Hawks were fourth behind Footscray. Besides Dench, they had the ever-reliable Frank Gumbleton minding the resting tall, the speedy John Byrnes in the other pocket and for this game, Keith Greig, their Brownlow Medalist Captain, minding Leigh Matthews down back. For those that never saw Greig play, he reminded me a lot of James Hird. Quality, fair player. Strangely North moved Steven Icke to CHF.

    The wings

    The Hawks had two speedy wingers in Geoff Ablett (Racehorse) and Rodney Eade. They had thrashed Greig and Chisnall in the 2nd semi and would again dominate this game.

    The Forwards

    Michael Moncrieff

    Hawthorn Full Forward was Michael Moncrieff. Nicknamed “Gladys” after the singer with the same surname, Moncrieff took over the full forward post from Peter Hudson after the Hawk legend had retired with a serious knee injury in 1972. * A tall leading forward who just had no physical presence in a game. He came into the Grand Final with 94 goals to his name for the season.

    John Hendrie

    Bomber by rights should have been a North player. Tied to their zone, the Hawks named him as a 16yo in a reserves match and for the last few minutes of that game he came on thereby tying him to Hawthorn, the team he really wanted to play for. A terrific hard working half forward he provided the focal point for the attack with 11 scoring shots for the game resulting in only 2 goals 9 points. His efforts, however, in keeping the ball down our end and the need for North to keep a close eye on him meant Hendrie more than played his part in our success.

    Kelvin Matthews

    Kelvin was Leigh Matthews’ not so little brother - a chunkier version of Lethal Leigh. I always felt he suffered from comparisons to his famous brother. Did well when he went into the centre, but his foot speed was slow compared to others and North exploited this. Not surprisingly, he was the player that John Kennedy substituted for Peter Murnane.

    North Forwards

    Steven Icke took on Peter Knights from Centre Half Forward. A tall player with good overhead skills, he kicked 2 goals but Knights beat him.

    Malcolm Blight. One of the X-factor players for North. Failed to kick a goal in the first half and was sent down back to try and stop Hendrie in the second half, where Blight got involved in the game and drove North forward and ended up as one of North’s better players.

    Wayne Schimmelbusch. Tough hard fast running winger / half forward who drifted in and out of the game.

    Reserves

    Leon Rice was the right person to be 19th man, an experienced campaigner and member of our 1971 Grand Final team, he could play either end or on the ball/wing. Unfortunately he was not bought on before the siren sounded, but still it was good to know he was there, just in case.

    Peter Murnane was a fast, classy half forward /on-baller. Terrific foot skills, beautiful kick. Murnane replaced K Matthews in the last quarter to add to fresh legs to the attack.

    North’s reserves

    Ross Henshaw. I liked this player - tough no-nonsense, good footballer. Strange, I would have considered him more a specialist back pocket or half back. He came on in the last quarter to help the North defence, but by this time they needed goals.

    Brent Crosswell. The ex-Blue. Now this guy was an interesting chap. He replaced Peter Keenan during the third quarter and immediately had an impact. Went to Full Forward and started pushing Kelvin Moore around. His appearance down forward sparked North’s revival and some easier goals were kicked giving North a glimmer of hope. For some reason Barassi named him in the starting 18, but swapped him and Peter Chisnall before the bounce.
  4. RustyHawk

    RustyHawk BFSC Platinum

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    5. The Game

    Coach John Kennedy’s final address to the players included reading out a telegram from Peter Crimmins who lay critically ill in hospital with terminal cancer, he wrote:

    Good luck to you and all the boys. It will be a long, hard 100 minutes but I am sure you will be there at the end. Regards. Peter Crimmins

    After he had outlined his strategy, Kennedy told the team “There are a lot of reasons why you have to win today. Most of all, do it for the little feller” Page 148 One for All.

    I was one of the 110,143 spectators who watched the Hawks triumph. I remember the day as being quite warm and sunny. As the giant MCG filled up it became apparent that in the southern stand on the fence a complete bay was empty - near the old Bay 13, a quite good spot on the wing. Just before the bounce, as the sea of people grew, those in charge decided to open the gates to the spectators who had purchased standing room only tickets. Within two minutes of the floodgates opening people swarmed in to take advantage of this terrific vantage point. Certainly better than where I watched from way back in the Olympic Stand, Richmond end.

    Turns out the Hawthorn Football Club then secretary, who had been newly appointed for season 1976, had thrown the tickets into the back of the safe and forgot about them. A very costly mistake. For Big Footy fans you should talk to our Gary Shadforth as he was one of the three candidates for the job in 1976, just losing out in the end.

    On field action

    Keith Greig, the North Captain, won the toss and kicked to the Richmond end.

    After 2 missed shots at goal, Lethal Leigh kicked our first goal at the 5-minute mark. From then on we were never headed.

    First Quarter: Hawks 5.6.30 to North 4.2.26 +4

    Second Quarter: Hawks 9.12.66 to North 7.5.47 +19

    Third Quarter: Hawks 10.18.78 to North 10.8.68 + 10

    Final Quarter: Hawks 13.22.100 to North 10.10.70 + 30

    Hawks won by 30

    The first half was characterised by the Hawks’ missed opportunities - lots of shots on goal for little reward. In fact, North had a chance early on to kick a goal through Peter Keenan, dead in front from a free against Kelvin Moore. He sprayed it out of bounds.

    First bounce sees Bernie Jones doing the ruck work against Big Mick Nolan.

    Late in the first quarter, Leigh Matthews would again have an impact. Deep in our forward line Keith Greig was clearing the ball. Matthews came in with clenched fist and caught Greig fair square on the forehead sending the North Captain to the ground. He got the 8 count but you wouldn’t call it standing. Greig got up, looked very groggy. Remembering, once you’re substituted, you’re off for the rest of the game, and no way Barassi would want to lose a key player in Greig. He stayed on but had little impact for the rest of the first half.

    Around the same time late in the second quarter, Alan Martello swings into the ruck and has an immediate impact punching the ball 30 metres at the centre bounce. Up until now his first 5 touches had resulted in errors, but this move would see that run stop and the positives start. North are tired and Hawthorn are on fire, kicking-out to a 19-point lead at half time.

    As a game the first half is ok, but the second half is a beauty. One thing I always believed with team coached by Ron Barassi was they would come out feeling and playing like supermen for the first 10 minutes of each quarter. If you could ride that time and not lose the plot you were generally safe. That first 10 minutes is so hard, so very very hard.

    In the third Quarter, Barassi made the move after 10 minutes of putting Crosswell on for Keenan. Tactically brilliant move. Crosswell immediately gave North a target. Barass had earlier moved his forwards down back and his backs forward. Suddenly Blight was in the game kicking North forward. Tall Terry Moore is sent down back and takes some marks. Daryl Sutton started to take marks on the half forward line putting Kelvin Moore and Brian Douge under extreme pressure. Mick Nolan is sent to Full Forward to put more pressure on Kelvin Moore before he is swung back in the ruck when Crosswell arrives.

    Fourth quarter. Hawks have regrouped and fight back to control the match. Peter Knights rises to take 2 big marks in a row stopping another North attempt to score.

    For North, Keith Greig is starting to shake off the cobwebs from the earlier hit and sends North forward, but not for long. Around the 14-minute mark, Leigh Matthews does a Gary Ablett Snr on Dipper in the 89 Grand Final by crashing heavily into his back during a marking contest. Channel 7’s Mike Williamson calls the bump “fair”. Such a big hit leaves Greig on the ground and effectively out of the game.

    15-minute mark Murname comes on for Kelvin Matthews who has kicked 2 goals for the game.

    Hawks continue to kick goals. North try as hard as they can. Now it’s David O’Halloran who steps up and takes 3 big marks in a row denying North any chance of moving the ball beyond half forward.

    Final scoring shot is fittingly a point kicked by Bernie Jones. The game started with a point to Hendrie and that’s the way the game ends.

    Hawthorn: 13.22.100 to North 10.10.70

    6. The Aftermath

    The VFL Grand Final was on Saturday the 25th of September 1976.

    On the 28th of September 1976, Peter Crimmins lost his fight against testicular cancer.

    RIP Little Fella, 176 VFL games, 231 goals and an enduring inspiration to the Hawthorn Football Club.


    Today, the player judged Hawthorn’s Best and Fairest player for the season is awarded the Peter Crimmins Medal in honor of the fallen champ.

    The Hawks retired the Number 5 jumper from the 1977 to 1992 seasons. For the 1993 season, Andy Collins was given the honor of wearing the number 5 for the first time since Peter Crimmins.











    *Hudson would return via helicopter for one game against Collingwood at VFL Park in 1973 and return to VFL Football in the 1977 season.
  5. RustyHawk

    RustyHawk BFSC Platinum

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    Pretty sure this is the 1976 Grand Final edition of the footy record.

    [​IMG]


    WEG poster

    [​IMG]


    The little champ. Peter Crimmins in full flight

    [​IMG]
    Procrastinator35 likes this.
  6. The BIG X

    The BIG X All Australian

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    Reading it as you are putting it up Rusty - makes me feel like I am back at the game sitting in the Forward Pocket/Southern Stand/Richmond end.

    Top stuff:thumbsu:

    Also love the intro Grizz
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  7. Hinkley29

    Hinkley29 Team Captain

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    Even being a non-Hawks fan, that is a quality read. Top work.
  8. Adelaide Hawk

    Adelaide Hawk Premiership Player

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    Just to clarify a point Rusty, I was always of the impression that Peter Crimmins was at home on the day of the Grand Final, and that the players went there after the game. Is this wrong?
  9. grizzlym

    grizzlym Admin

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    You could well be right, AH. I put a couple of references into my OP off memory after talking with my dad.
  10. grizzlym

    grizzlym Admin

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    Here are some clips of 1976 from Youtube. As always thanks to the anonymous people albeit Hawk fans who post these. We salute you!

    [youtube]5LkIxmdJ9fg[/youtube]

    [youtube]ve67NjtycGE[/youtube]
  11. grizzlym

    grizzlym Admin

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    And John Kennedy's inspirational speech.

    [youtube]R2RzO-DY72Q[/youtube]

    (Log in to remove this ad.)

  12. grizzlym

    grizzlym Admin

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    Peter Crimmins

    [YOUTUBE]NA2pdWp9I0I[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE]vJJH0JPWrBs[/YOUTUBE]

    Now guys, and that means AH, HH, Big X et al, tell me about Peter Crimmins. I'm so familiar with the story and the tragedy, but want to know more about the player.
  13. The BIG X

    The BIG X All Australian

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    My understanding was Peter Crimmins was not able to get to the GF due to his deterring condition and John Kennedy's speech was around the point of "lets do it for the little fella"

    That is why the famous photo of the players went to his home very late on GF night to show Peter the Cup.

    I am sure Ho/Hu AH and Rusty have many thoughts on Crimmo's time at Hawthorn however I will start off.

    Peter was the son of the Police Sargeant stationed at Hawthorn Police station and this was the reason he came to Hawthorn.

    He was a cheeky young guy full of fun endevour and spirit and gained the love and trust of all around him. This made him a great leader amongst a fine array of players.

    Hawthorn at that time had many blond players either by Proxide or Natural and Peter was natural from top to toe.

    He was our 1st rover and Matthers played second fiddle to him.
  14. grizzlym

    grizzlym Admin

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    Thanks Big X, you and Adelaide Hawk were completely correct re Crimmins being at home. I've adjusted my OP accordingly. He must have been quite a player with Lethal playing second rover.
  15. Adelaide Hawk

    Adelaide Hawk Premiership Player

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    Peter Crimmins was an amazing player. Quick, courageous, highly skillful and inspirational. What a pair we had in Crimmins and Matthews. In an era where it was customary for ruckmen to look after their rovers, those two could look after themselves.

    Hard to compare him really. He was cheeky, had good speed, could find the ball in the most difficult of circumstances, and knew where the goals were when resting in the pocket. If you saw a lot of John Platten, he was similar to Crimmins in terms of getting his head over the ball and dishing out to team mates.

    A real leader was Crimmo.

    I saw a state game between SA & Vic at the Adelaside Oval in 1970 where Huddo was best on ground with 9 goals, and Crimmo 2nd best with 4 goals. I knew who Crimmo was, but it was the first time I'd seen him play live.

    It's a pity we don't see the genuine rover these days, Crimmo was a classic.
  16. Wally Carter

    Wally Carter Account Cancelled by User

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    A really excellent report on the 1976 grand final RH.:thumbsu:

    Losing Briedis and Kekovich hurt us badly, our forward line just wasn't up to scratch. As I remember it Brent Crosswell played full forward, which just goes to show how light on we were up there. 20 scoring shots in superb conditions will never win you a Grand Final, the Hawks defence was just too good that day.
  17. Adelaide Hawk

    Adelaide Hawk Premiership Player

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    As some may realise from earlier threads, in the 1970s I was still very much worshipping Hawthorn from afar. I enjoyed everything about Hawthorn, but never really considered going over to see a match live, much less a Grand Final. My love affair with the Hawks was limited to watching the Winners on ABC2.

    In those days the SANFL GF was played on the same day, so I was at Football Park, first of all to watch my club Norwood win the Reserves GF, followed by Sturt downing Port Adelaide in the big one. For those unfamiliar with the culture of SANFL, it was always a rare treat to watch Port Adelaide defeated in a GF :)

    However, I had my trusty transistor with me and was eagerly listening for scores. Even though still haunted by the 1975 result, I was quietly confident of a victory ... then again I always am .. I wouldn't hear of us losing the 2008 GF.

    The scores were coming through and I was scribbling them into my GF Football Budget. So come 3/4 time, Norwood had won the Reserves, the Hawks had got up over North, and Port were going down right before my eyes. Life rarely gets much better than that :)

    Once again I hurried home to watch the replay and cheered each goal as if it were happening live. I have to admit when talking of the 1976 & 1978 GFs, I get them a little confused with each other, same opposition, many of the same players, etc. I always seem to think we won the 76 GF by less than in 78, but not so.

    Living in SA, I hadn't kept up with the information regarding Peter Crimmins. I knew he was unwell but hadn't grasped the gravity of his situation until I picked up the paper one morning and saw the (now) famous photo of all the Hawks players with Crimmo and the cup, and the unbelievable story that the "Little Fella" had passed away.

    I was shocked, I couldn't comprehend that this brilliant, extremely fit athletic was no longer with us. Having thought a football match was so important a couple of days earlier, I wondered if at times we get our priorities a little askew.

    The memories that are indelibly etched in my memory from the 76GF was the superb marking and field play of the great Peter Knights. I often feel this player is very much under-rated when discussing past champions of VFL/AFL. For my money, he'd be in the best 20 players I've ever seen.

    But, how lucky was I? The Mighty Hawks had won our 2nd flag since I "adopted" them in 1968. I wondered ... would I be lucky enough to see them win another one? :)
  18. houdinihuddo

    houdinihuddo BFSC Gold

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    Peter Crimmins was one of the most sensational young men you could ever know. He was always a cheeky, chirpy and positive character who was full of life. He was a courageous player who was quick, read the play very well, always handled the ball cleanly, had very good foot disposal skills and was a great leader.

    In 1975 Crimmo played 7 games in the firsts, I think the first 7 games, before his illness. He played in the reserves towards the end of the season including one of two finals games. Due to his great courage and ability he played well.

    A lot of pressure was placed on the selectors to select Crimmo in the GF team however due to concerns about his health and well being he was overlooked. Before the GF Crimmo arrived in the rooms carrying his footy gear just in case someone couldn't play at the last minute and a number of players were shattered and could not hold back their tears.

    Extracts from the 1975 Annual Report read:
    "We regret to report that in his second season as captain Peter was unable complete the season due to illness. However in the matches in which he was able to appear, Peter inspired the whole team with his tremendous courage, skill and tenacity.

    He worked extremely hard to overcome his illness and regain his fitness through pure dedication. This in itself is a credit to this very popular Club member and leader".

    The last time I spoke to Crimmo was mid year in 1976. I was walking along Little Collins Street outside David Jones when he greeted me. At first I did not recognise him because he had lost so much weight and looked very sick however he cheered me up with his cheeky grin and positive outlook.

    I have teared up writing about one of the most inspiration people anyone could be privileged to know.

    At every BHH training session I love looking at the wonderful photographs of Crimmo in the HFC gym. Crimmo was a truly great person and a champion footballer.
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  19. Linda Crescent

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  20. grizzlym

    grizzlym Admin

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    HH, I can understand your emotions re Crimmins.

    I was asking my father about him on the weekend and he clouded over. I remember my grandmother - his mother - used to tear-up when the Little Fella was mentioned. His name and the 1976 flag were always associated with sadness for me; a sadness that pervaded through the club and continues to be felt to this day. My father and grandmother’s reactions, even your post HH, are proof of that.

    The Crimmin’s legacy is compounded by his heart-wrenching omission for the 1975 Grand Final. But something immense was forged that Grand Final Day in 1976 – where the combined will of great champions responded to the heart-felt words of a legendary coach and ‘won it for the Little Fella’. While the sadness was/is profound, the Hawthorn spirit was infused with that of its dying leader that day in September. That legacy lives on to this day.

    I was a young fella in 1975-76, and therefore, I have no memory of seeing Crimmins play. I know I did though. Yet for as long as I can remember, I felt like I knew the Crimmin’s story . Unfortunately, for me though Crimmins was always dead or dying, never playing footy – I’m just of that era, I guess.

    I do remember the 1976 Grand Final Day though, because my family flew back into the country to watch the hawks play. To explain: my father’s work had shunted the family on an around-the-world trip at the start of 1976, which was supposed to last for the whole year. But as the reports of the Hawk’s great season coupled with Crimmin’s declining health gradually filtered through, Dad started making plans to get back. He didn’t have to convince Mum too hard though, as she was starting to crack it living in hotels while he swanned around.

    We left London - flying back on British Airways I think - and landed on Grand Final Day. My memory is probably fallible here, but we went directly from the airport to the MCG (mum headed home with my brother), where my grandmother was waiting for us with tickets.

    The spectacle was overwhelming for a jet-lagged young tacker like me. The game itself was a blur. To be honest I thought I had scant few memories, but Rusty’s account stirred visions of Knights and Mathews. Anyway, we won. I remember that.

    I also remember going down into the rooms after the game, lots of hugging and Dad buying me a Weg poster on the way home. That poster stayed on my bedroom wall for years, and along with the Crimmins’ sadness, were constant reminders of that game. One faded, the other just continued to grow.

    As the years went by, there were constant reminders of the ‘Little Fella’. For one of my father’s birthdays my grandmother gave him Peter Knight’s book, ‘Knight in Shining Armour’. It contained a very sad chapter about the death of Crimmins, including that iconic photo taken around Crimmin’s bed. It was, to my young eyes, a very sad photo. Unjust. It shows a grinning, healthy Peter Knights with his beaming teammates holding the Premiership Cup. They are gathered around a gravely ill Crimmins who looks like he’d staggered out of a concentration camp; a desiccated husk of man.

    My father used to tell me stories about Peter Crimmins. He also told me about how Crimmin’s number was retired. To which I invariably asked him, ‘will they retire other numbers when players die?’ His reply was always something along the lines of, "no, that's just for Crimmo". He would also tell me that, “if one of his sons plays for us… that’s the only way you’ll see the number 5 on the back of a Hawthorn jumper, son.”

    Crimmin’s had that effect on people - well he did on my dad. And obviously on you too, HH.

    I carry the sadness, but I also know that it made our club stronger. While playing, Crimmins inspired his teammates. When he was fighting for his life, his courage inspired not only his teammates to win the 1976 flag, but many others too. And in death, Crimmins continues to inspire our club.

    While I have nascent memories of Crimmens and this era, and many of the posters on this board might have only heard his name, it's important to know the place he holds in our club's history. That's what these threads are all about. Because Premierships, like clubs are built on people.

    As a postscript: my father was very pleased when Andy Collins wore the number 5. He thought the Little Fella would of liked Collins, and the way he played the game.
  21. RustyHawk

    RustyHawk BFSC Platinum

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    Yes at home.

    The Victorian Premier of the time, Mr. Lindsay Thompson even offered to send his government limo to take Peter to the game but his condition deteriorated leaving him to listen to the game at home.

    What I remember most of Crimmo was the mop top blonde hair and the fact when the players all got up off the pack, little Peter Crimmins would always be the player at the bottom with the ball.
  22. Adelaide Hawk

    Adelaide Hawk Premiership Player

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    Hawthorn also won the Wills Cup in 1976, with a win over North Melbourne in the night series held at Norwood Oval.

    I wonder how many of our posters were there? I was, cheering on the Hawks. I was hoping for a Hawthorn v Norwood final but Norwood were knocked out by North Melbourne in the semis.

    Norwood deafeated Carlton by 106 points in a lead up game, one of my fondest memories. I love beating Carlton :)

    The cup is still figured prominently in the Hawthorn trophy collection. On the night it had brown & gold ribbons tied to one handle and blue & white ribbons on the other. When presented with the cup, Don Scott's first action was to rip the blue & white ribbons off the cup. That was Scotty for you folks :)
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  23. eldorado

    eldorado Moderator

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    The following will be of limited interest to anyone but myself, but the memories are still with me, so I'll allow myself this indulgence...

    Like Grizz, my memories of Crimmo actually playing are very vague...possibly 1974, when I was only 7.

    I recall wishing he was playing in the 1975 grand final, and bawling my eyes out when the siren went, somehow thinking (as 8 year olds may) that we could still kick the 10 goals required to make up the 55 point deficit. If Crimmo had been there, I thought...

    His name was everywhere in 1976, when I was able to read Hawthorn newspaper stories, and soaked up all things Hawthorn like a sponge.

    But I really had no idea what cancer actually was, or what it meant. Crimmo was just 'sick', and couldn't play

    Then we won the flag, (the first I remember as a genuine Hawk fan, aged 9) and there were the photos of the boy around at Crimmo's

    I still recall when I heard the news. It was on the radio, and I cried like I'd lost a friend. Apart from a pet cat, it was my first real grief. I hadn't even contemplated that he would die.

    Straight after the news, they reverted to their regular playlists, and played Marcia Hines "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself"

    It still brings back that sadness whenever, if ever, I hear it today.
  24. grizzlym

    grizzlym Admin

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    On the contrary Eldorado, I think it's very interesting. It confirms what I feel, and what I struggled so hard to articulate in my post last night. (Still don't think I've nmanaged to convey exactly what the Crimmin's Legacy is for me beyond 'a sadness'.)

    I'm actually going to try and get my computer illiterate and card-carrying Luddite of a father to post his recollections of Crimmins and the 1976 flag. I'm going there on Xmas day, so after I ply him with booze I'll transcribe his ramblings. Well, that's the plan at least.
  25. 2Sewell4School

    2Sewell4School Team Captain

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    We would all love to hear them Grizz.

    Thanks to everyone for their heartfelt and informative posts. I have always wished I was born in a premiership year but ended up sandwiched by flags.

    Great read