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From the Archives, 1991: Hawks crush young Eagles in VFL Park grand final

Hawthorn’s Paul Dear balances the ball on his fingertips.

Hawthorn’s Paul Dear balances the ball on his fingertips.Credit:Wayne Ludbey

This year’s win ranks with the best of them. Not only did some of us believe the ageing Hawks were “gone” after sliding to fifth in 1990, the Hawks overcame a dramatic mid-year slump, won the Qualifying Final in Perth (West Coast’s sole loss at home for the season), and won the flag against the team that dominated the home-and-away series with 19 wins from 22 games.

The flag, Hawthorn’s ninth since 1960, was a triumph and a tribute to the club, coach Alan Joyce and a group of players overdosed on skill, commitment, discipline and camaraderie.

They were led into battle by the remarkable Michael Tuck; 38, and playing his 426th game and his 39th final.

While Tuck was nothing more than serviceable, he was a contributor, as always. He gave no indication after the game that the boots were to be packed away forever.

Chris Lewis outmarks Hawthorn ’s James Morrisey.

Chris Lewis outmarks Hawthorn ’s James Morrisey.Credit:Wayne Ludbey

Hawthorn’s performance was staggering given the quality of the opposition and West Coast’s flying start.

The tide turned late in the first quarter. Hawthorn, trailing by 21 points at the 28-minute mark, added two goals in 90 seconds, both from Jason Dunstall, and the Hawks were away.

They kicked 5.8 to 2.1 in the second term, holding the Eagles scoreless for the first 20 minutes; matched the Eagles with 5.3 against the wind in the third quarter; and then blitzed them with an eight-goal last quarter.

Joyce was typically composed and matter-of-fact after the game, expressing his pride in his players and taking none of the credit for the win.

He said it was difficult to “put a word” on his emotions. “I’m just very proud.”

He was proud, too, of the spontaneous gesture of three of the club’s heroes of the 1980s — Robert DiPierdomenico, Peter Schwab and John Kennedy — who shook hands with every player in the Grand Final team in the rooms before the game.

“I said to the players before the game there are some very special things about this place, this football club,” Joyce said.

West Coast coach Michael Malthouse paid tribute to Hawthorn after the game — “they should be acknowledged as the best side in the country” — and took no comfort from his team’s superb home-and-away series. “When you lose it (the Grand Final), you lose. There’s no sense of pride.”

Hawthorn took a grip on the game in the second quarter, with a marauding Paul Dear leading the charge at halt-forward.

Hawthorn Captain Michael Tuck holding the premiership cup.

Hawthorn Captain Michael Tuck holding the premiership cup.Credit:Stuart Hannagan

The younger brother of injured premiership ruckman Greg Dear played the game of his life and was a worthy winner of the Norm Smith Medal as best afield.

Apart from the win, the most pleasing aspect of the display for Joyce, and an ominous sign for every other club, was the contribution of Dear, Stephen Lawrence, Darrin Pritchard, Paul Hudson and the other youngsters called on by Joyce during the season to shoulder more responsibility.

Ruckman Lawrence was superb yet again and has been the player of the finals series.

The Eagles were disappointing, even allowing for the unique pressure of Grand Final day.

Defender Guy McKenna clearly was their best player, and the team’s sole winner.

They were lucky to be in the contest for so long. Peter Sumich’s two first-quarter goals resulted from 50-metre penalties against Chris Langford, usually the epitome of self-control on a football field; Peter Wilson dribbled a goal with a right-angle shot from the boundary line; and Brett Heady goaled from 65 metres.

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The win was a fitting climax to Hawthorn’s long and arduous season, which comprised 34 games and included the pre-season premiership.

Joyce, who replaced Allan Jeans as coach after the 1990 season, has coached the Hawks to four premierships (two day, two night) in two years as coach.

There was no hint yesterday that the key to the trophy cupboard at Glenferrie shouldn’t be kept within easy reach.

HAWTHORN 3.4 7.12 12.15 20.19 (139)

WEST COAST 5.1 7.2 12.5 13.8 (86)

GOALS

HAWTHORN: Dunstall 6, Brereton 4, Dear 2, Pritchard 2, Hudson 2, Condon, Hall, Anderson, Morrissey.

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WEST COAST: Sumach 5. Heady 4, Lewis 2, Wilson, Pyke.

BEST

HAWTHORN: Dear, Lawrence, Pritchard, Ayres. Platten, Morrissey.

WEST COAST: McKenna. Sumach, Pyke, Hart.

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