It is an unusually exciting time to be watching Hawthorn games.

The past three rounds with margins of seven, five and one has been the first time in eight years that the Hawks have played in three consecutive games decided by single-figure margins. 

Prior to 2024, the most recent sequence of three successive single-figure margins was in 2016, which remarkably saw Hawthorn win all three games from Rounds 3 to 5 by three-point margins.

Further, if this week’s game against Brisbane Lions is decided by a single-figure margin, it will be the first time for 65 years that Hawthorn has played in four consecutive games with such narrow margins. In 1959, the Hawks had a five-point win against Essendon in Round 10, but then losses by one, six and nine points in the next three rounds.

Hawthorn has won its last four matches against the Brisbane Lions. 

The Hawks defeated the Lions by 28 points at the MCG in 2020, followed by University of Tasmania (UTAS) Stadium wins by 12 points (2021) and five points (2022). Last season, Hawthorn was victorious at the MCG by 25 points in Round 13. A common factor in the 2020 and 2021 games was outstanding performances by Chad Wingard, gaining three Brownlow votes in the 2020 game and two votes in 2021, and he again made a big contribution in 2022 with three goals.

Overall, Hawthorn and Brisbane have played 54 times, with the Hawks winning 34 and losing 20. Hawthorn won eight consecutive games against the Lions from 2010 to 2017, but then lost four games in 2018-19, before winning the most recent four games.

This Sunday will see the first meeting between Hawthorn and Brisbane Lions at Docklands, leaving just Melbourne and GWS Giants as teams the Hawks have not played there. The Hawks have had a good first-up record against new opponents at the venue, winning nine and losing five of their 14 previous opening encounters with other clubs. 

Ethan Phillips has become the first Hawthorn player to debut in a one-point defeat since young forward Mark Scott in 1978. Like Phillips, Scott played well on debut, kicking three goals. Scott managed two further games for the Hawks, before extending his career at St Kilda and Fitzroy.

Phillips is also just the second individual born on 17 July to play for Hawthorn. The one previous 17 July birthday belonged to Godfrey McRae who was born 93 years before Phillips - 1906 compared to 1999. McRae’s solitary game was the final match of the 1927 season, a 66-point defeat by Richmond at Punt Road.

Sad news with the recent passing of 1961 Premiership player Malcolm Hill. Hill played 16 of his 22 career games in the 1961 season, making himself an integral part of the Flag-winning team. He had already played in Hawthorn’s first premiership at any level, the 1958 Seconds Premiership, and later played in multiple premierships for Sturt in the SANFL.

Last Sunday’s one-point defeat, following similar defeats by Carlton in 2022 and Richmond last season, makes it the first time since 1977-79 that Hawthorn has recorded one-point losses in three consecutive seasons. In the late 1970s, the Hawks actually had four one-point defeats in three years, losing to Richmond (1977) and Carlton (1979), as well as remarkably twice losing by one-point to Fitzroy in Rounds 5 and 16 of1978, a year when Hawthorn won the Flag and the Lions missed the Finals.

Round 11 has historically been one of Hawthorn’s less successful rounds, with 39 wins, two draws and 56 defeats from 97 games (with byes in 2013 and 2015). Hawthorn did have a memorable win in Round 11 last season, coming from behind to defeat St Kilda by 10 points at Docklands. Prior to last season’s victory, the Hawks’ most recent Round 11 win was in 2018, a three-point success against Port Adelaide at University of Tasmania Stadium.

10 years ago, in Round 11 2014, Hawthorn played under interim coach Brendan Bolton for the first time and recorded a seven-point victory over GWS at the MCG – 14.10.94 to 13.9.87. Jack Gunston and Isaac Smith both kicked four goals, with the latter also rated the Hawks’ best.

40 years ago, in Round 11 1984, Hawthorn recorded a 32-point win against Collingwood at Waverley in front of a holiday Monday crowd of 62,339. The score was 18.16.124 to 14,8.92, with Ken Judge kicking five goals and Leigh Matthews four, while David Polkinghorne superbly blanketed Collingwood star Peter Daicos. Other good players included Robert Dipierdomenico, Gary Ayres, and Russell Greene.  

60 years ago, in Round 11 1964, Hawthorn restricted Footscray to just 3.3.21, a score which remains the second lowest ever kicked against the Hawks. The Bulldogs had 3.2 at half-time and only managed a behind in the third quarter before failing to score in the final term. Hawthorn kicked 12.9.81 with John Peck contributing seven goals, but many adjudged Phil Hay to be best-on-ground.

70 years ago, in Round 11 1954, Hawthorn scraped home for a five-point win against Fitzroy at Glenferrie – 11.15.81 to 11.10.76. Kevin Coghlan and Wally Nash both kicked four goals, with the best players headed by skipper Ted Fletcher.

Jason Dunstall holds the club individual goal-kicking record against Brisbane, with 11 goals in the first ever match between the two clubs at Carrara in 1987.