Hawk Eye for the Queer Guy
With a colour code of brown and yellow, Hawthorn has never been a particularly fashionable club. In the late 90s, the club tried to address this liability through a policy of meta-sexualisation, which worked so well that the market has begun to think that the Hawk’s Eye should be reserved for the Queer Guy.
The foundations of Hawthorn's meta-sexual image can be traced to its entry into the VFL in 1925. Along with hideous colours of brown and yellow, administrators didn't see the need for an intimidating name for the club was initially known as the 'Mayblooms' and then the 'Mayflowers'. Admittedly, Mayblooms wasn't as effeminate as other flowers under consideration, such as daisies and tulips; however, Mayblooms still lagged a significant way behind more imposing flowers such as snap-dragons.
Understandably, the Mayflowers weren't the coolest club on the block and thus struggled to attract decent players. In these early years "success" and "Hawthorn" were a contradiction in terms for only once during the period 1925 to 1956 did the club manage more wins than losses for the year.
In 1950 Hawthorn changed its moniker from Mayflowers to Hawks and this change could itself be regarded as a psychologically significant development in the club's emergence out of the doldrums. In 1961 it won its first premiership. More successes followed in 1971, 1976, 1978, 1983, 1988-89, and 1991.
The 70s and 80s were particularly fruitful decades for the club. Not only did the decades produce the club’s great icons, they also produced many of the true icons of the game. These icons included Dermot Brereton; a tough and dirty player who was about as far removed from a Maybloom as a human can get. Lethal Leigh Matthews; considered one of the toughest and most skilful players of all time. Robert Dipierdomenico, a footballer of imposing size with an equally impressive moustache to boot - very much the type of man fathers have nightmares that their daughter will bring home.
Despite success and icons of the game, membership levels remained relatively low. Consequently, in 1996 the board voted to merge with the Melbourne Demons; seeing the merger as the only hope for the club to remain financially viable. Rather than trust the board, fans and ex-players led a rebellion and the subsequent change in marketing direction has to be seen as one of success stories of Australian sport. First, the new board fought to retain its own identity by refusing to merge. They also fought for the future of Waverly Park; an east Melbourne stadium in the heart of Melbourne suburbia. For the first time in decades, fans saw a club making a stand for something other than profit. They saw a club more interested in integrity rather than selling its soul to the lure of the dollar. It was an irresistible image that won a whole new legion of fans, particularly amongst the mums and dads whom didn't care much about fashion sense, but did care a lot about integrity.
After successfully seeing their membership rise on the backs of mums and dads, the Hawks started selling themselves as "the family club." In turn, the club found that its family image was a double-edged sword. On one hand, the family image was attractive to the sponsors moralistic shows like 7th Heaven. On the other hand, it has never been a cool school-yard boast to say one supports a club which encourages families to hold hands in an act of feel-good togetherness. Former Victorian Premier and keen Hawthorn supporter Jeff Kennett put it quite aptly when he said:
Rather than recruit tough players to deal with the club's image problem, the football department recruited meta-sexuals in order to deal with the club's lack of fashion. Some of these players had names such as Chance, Jordan, Xavier, Beau, Buddy, and Trent, which were straight of American soap operas. Other players, such as Roughhead and Lance, had names that were decidedly phallic. To further reinforce the club's gay credentials, their captain Shane Crawford even posed for gay-style calendars and maintained an ambiguous status in regards to his sexuality.
The Queer Eye for the Hawks guy strategy achieved its objectives as a Roy Morgan poll in 2006 found that Hawks supporters were 48 per cent more likely to declare themselves to be homosexual.
The successful cultivation of a gay following presented the Hawks with a new dilemma. Not only was it in contradiction to their "family" image, it also seemed a throwback the Maybloom days where players reserved their hardness for something other than a football. To deal with its image problem, the club formed an association with Tasmania in the hope that the geographic shape of Australia's pubic state would erode from of the phallic imagery the club had become associated with. In addition, the club created a new logo with a tough looking Hawk and a vaginal shaped shield.
It seems sex sells because the mix of vaginal and phallic symbolism led to a hug spike in membership and Hawthorn nearing the ranks of Collingwood as one of the league's power clubs.
Hawthorn is a tight team
Roy Morgan research
Hawthorn Hawks supporters are:
2001 when compared to other Australians
2004 when compared to other AFL supporters
2006- When compared to other AFL supporters
Club song hawthorn hawks theme song
Hawthorn began its existence as a junior club and the line "We're a happy team at Hawthorn". Considering how the club's culture evolved, it is fortunate that the song's writers didn't initially use gay, the period's most common word for happy. "Riding the bumps with a grin" could be interpreted two ways,
Essendon - For a long time Hawthorn struggled to build any rivalries. They were too much of a happy family club to build the kind of intimidatory onfield presence that would make them enemies. But in the late 70s, they developed a nasty streak and began stepping on a few toes. By the 80s, they were the toughest, meanest and best team in the league. Everyone wanted to beat them.
In the 1983 grand final, they locked horns with Essendon, another family club from the traditionally protestant area of western Melbourne. It was coached by a young Kevin Sheedy, a dodgy ex-backman who liked his players to show a bit of mongrel. But the Hawks soon put the upstarts in their place, inflicting a then record grand final defeat of 83 points on the young Bombers.
In the 1984 grand final, a three quarter time brawl was the catalyst for Essendon turning the tables. A nine-goal final quarter carried the Bombers to sweet revenge.
In the 1985 grand final, the Bombers kept in mind the power of an all-in- brawl and started one in the opening minutes. Sure enough, it carried them to a huge victory and back to back flags.
For the next decade, clashes between the two always had something extra. Fans of the respective clubs treasured their memories of Dermott Brereton crashing through the Essendon huddle and Bill Duckworth stepping on Brereton's hands.
Unfortunately, in the late 90s Hawthorn rediscovered its family image and as is to be expected, its performances fell away. Essendon fans no longer cared much about beating Hawthorn as it wasn't any kind of accomplishment.
Thankfully, in 2004 the two clubs re-aquainted themselves with their tradition with an all-in-brawl. A total of 25 players were reported with Hawthorn Captain Richie Vandenberg being rubbed out for six weeks.
For the old cogers, it brought a tear to the eye as they reminished about the great brawls of yesteryear. Even journalists who are accustomed to getting on a moral high horse, couldn't help but give credit where credit was due. One writing:
Why are they thinking of renaming the Hawks the Hawthorn Hens?
What's the definition of a poofter?
Why does Hawthorn pay its players so much money?
Chance Batemen and Jared Roughhead were training. Chance got involved in some circle work, but Roughhead had a sore groin so he watched from the sidelines. The ball went round and round and then suddenly Chance was bumped by Xavier and fell to the ground, landing at Roughhead's feet. "Are you hurt Chance?" cried Roughhead in a high pitched squeal. "Of course I am you bitch!" replied Chance with tears in his eyes. " Three times I went round and you didn't wave once to me!"
How do you know that you have walked into a Hawthorn church service?
|Was this more interesting than a news update of players in a recovery session standing around in the ocean looking cold or of a team 'training without incident'?|