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Unheralded moments make story of Sewell's career

Result first, milestone later for Sewell Brad Sewell speaks to HawksTV about reaching his 200th game against Geelong.
Brad Sewell and Alistair Clarkson after Hawthorn wins the 2008 Toyota AFL Grand Final between the Geelong Cats and the Hawthorn Hawks at the MCG.
Brad Sewell hugs coach Alastair Clarkson after winning the 2008 Grand Final.

BRAD SEWELL has never been one to love the spotlight.

He’s one of those people both on and off the field who quietly goes about his business, does the hard, tough and selfless things for the greater good and a lot of the time without fanfare.

So when it comes to playing his 200th career game, the story is much the same.

Sitting in the multimedia studio at the Ricoh Centre, there is an heir of uneasiness as he prepares to speak about his career ahead of his team’s biggest game of the year to date.

As he puts on his microphone and sits up in his seat, it’s obvious his mind is elsewhere. It’s on Geelong and what will happen at the MCG in tonight’s Qualifying Final.

The ultimate team man since arriving at Hawthorn via the rookie draft way back in 2003, Sewell is quick to shut down talk of the individual.

Instead, he chooses to speak about the importance, the significance of a Hawthorn victory tonight.

“It’s a privilege to play 200 games and it’s been an absolute honour to play them all with Hawthorn,” he says.

“(But) given this week’s game, it feels like it’s not a significance at all to be honest.

“It won’t feel as though it means too much unless we win. The sweetness of it and the memories of it will be a helluva lot more if we win.”

Of course Sewell and his teammates are enjoying success now as another finals campaign awaits but that hasn’t always been the case.

Throughout his career he has seen the highs and the lows of football.

When Sewell arrived in 2003 from the North Ballarat Rebels, the Hawks had just finished ninth, missing out on the finals for the second straight year.

There was more pain to come.

In his debut season in 2004, where he played six games, the Hawks finished second last having won just four games for the year.

That disappointing season saw Peter Schwab removed as coach and an outsider, someone who wasn’t as well-known as Rodney Eade, Terry Wallace or Gary Ayres, candidates for the job at the time, was installed as coach.

His name, Alastair Clarkson.

In 2005 the Hawks finished 14th after another tough year and in 2006, a breakout year for Sewell, where he finished third in the Club best and fairest, they finished 11th.

Finally in 2007 the Hawks returned to the finals but were knocked out by North Melbourne in the second week after a stunning win over Adelaide in the first round. Nevertheless, it was the moment things would turn around for Hawthorn.

Of course the Hawks and Sewell would go on to win the 2008 premiership but that achievement would come without a person held dear to the football club, Richie Vandenberg.

While it was a tough initiation to AFL football for Sewell, it is a time he looks back on fondly now as a 199-game player. It has enriched his experience as an elite footballer.

“There are a few of us who have been really lucky to have been at Hawthorn during a transition,” he reflects.

“We were in a really ordinary place when a few of us started and throughout that journey, with ‘Clarko’ coaching, we’ve been able to turn it around.

“I feel like ‘Vanders’ (Richie Vandenberg) was one of the most important people during that transition – he really had to do some hard yards, put his neck out and cop a fair bit.

“He had to change, almost single-handedly I think, the culture of the place.”\

Brad Sewell celebrates the 2008 premiership with teammates Luke Hodge and Brent Guerra.

For Sewell his career is the culmination of small, insignificant moments that altogether mean something special.

So when he’s asked about some of the favourite memories of his career so far it’s not the premiership success of 2008 and 2013 or his best and fairest win in 2007.

It’s fitting, as the Hawks embark on a fifth consecutive finals series and this one inspired by living and seizing every moment, that Sewell, the ultimate professional, the ultimate team player, the ultimate leader, would celebrate all those moments that have led him here.

“I think it’s enjoying some of those smaller moments with guys that are enduring those because more than anything else, it’s the bond, the mateship and the spirit that you build within each other that lasts for a very long time,” he says.

“They might seem like insignificant moments in games (but they’re not).

“One that sticks out for me is a practice match with Max Bailey. It was one of his first games and he’d just done a great contest and pulling someone like that up off the ground (is significant).”

For the first time this year Sewell has endured an injury-plagued season but such is his determination and will to succeed, he has got himself back into Hawthorn’s best team when many doubted him.

“I feel like that is all behind me now. I’m going into this finals series feeling really strong and confident and the body feels really good,” he said.

Good luck, Sewelly.