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Letter to members: Cyril, an icon

Cyril & Bruce discuss retirement Cyril Rioli and Bruce McAvaney discussed the Hawthorn forward's decision to retire.

President Jeff Kennett has penned the following letter to members... 

Well hello happy Hawkers.

It has been a busy few weeks.

Let me start this letter by talking about Cyril’s retirement from the game.

Read: Rioli calls time on decorated career

Importantly, as he said himself yesterday when addressing the players, he is not retiring from Hawthorn.

He is very grateful for the opportunities Hawthorn and its people have given him, and he will always be Hawthorn.

But after 11 years at the club, so far away from his home, the time was right for him to return to where so many of his family live.

It has not been an easy decision for Cyril and he has been talking to senior people at the club since October last year, so his decision yesterday was carefully arrived at after a lot of thought and discussion with many people. Family, friends, Hawthorn personnel and of course his management team.

Cyril has been an outstanding footballer, but as his reputation grew his ego did not. He finishes his career as humble an individual as when he started his career with us in 2008.

Of course, he is an extremely talented player. His electric speed, his pursuit of an opponent was akin to watching a lion or cheetah chase and bring down its prey, his multiple turns on a sixpence as he ducked and weaved his way into and out of so many situations, and finally his disposals whether by hand or foot excited the heart of every AFL supporter.

Bear in mind the average length of an AFL player’s career is 4.5 years, that we have had Cyril as part of Hawthorn for 11 years has been a bonus and in so many ways over the norm.

While many of us will be disappointed we will not see Cyril again on the field in the brown and gold, it is better to have seen him than never had him as part of our sport.

And remember Cyril has not died, he has only retired! He has completed one phase of his life, and now starts another. He starts the next lap with our blessing and support. I have a feeling once he has settled back with his family in Darwin, given six months to build his new nest, if he wishes, there will be an ongoing role for him with Hawthorn. But that will be Cyril’s choice, when the time is right.

So much is written about Cyril and his contribution to the game in the papers today by people whose expertise is more profound than mine, I can only direct you to those articles.

Suffice to say having joined us in 2007 Cyril has been an inspiring contributor to our game and has been a major ingredient in our last four premierships

But please remember my oft repeated comment, no individual wins on their own, teams of people do. Even Cyril Rioli could not win a premiership on his own. He has been an exciting craftsman in some wonderful teams. Together with their coaches and staff they have saluted four times in 10 years! Not a bad achievement.

Cyril Rioli, an icon at Hawthorn, but also an icon to the code.

We thank him for his service, we wish he and his family well for the rest of their lives.

I have already invited him back to our Peter Crimmins Medal night, our best and fairest, at years’ end. In the meantime, Cyril Rioli has well and truly earnt his place in the Hawthorn Football Club's history and has delivered a standard of play that will be hard to equal.

Talking of football!

We continue to be in the hunt for the final eight. But it is getting tight. It was disappointing that again last week we let GWS get ahead of us early. We fought back twice which excited us all but we weren’t able to finish the game with the four points.

I suspect the first six positions on the ladder have almost been locked away. 7th and 8th position will be decided between any number of teams. Wins of course will be pivotal, but final percentage will determine the last two positions.

So, onto our game this weekend against the Western Bulldogs. It will be a tough encounter. The Dogs have been playing well. But if you can’t win the tough games you simply do not deserve to be in the top eight. So, it is up to us again to prove our worth.

I do ask as many as possible to attend the game at Etihad on Saturday night. Our players are lifted by the sound of our voices, so I look forward to seeing you there. Finally, I have spent the last few days signing thousands of letters to those of our members who have not re-joined this year. For any one of many reasons there is an attrition rate among all clubs every year.

So those of you who are reading this letter who have not re-joined and will be getting my letters in the mail please do so if you can. We need your support and we are 700 memberships short of our target of 80,000 members. That in its self is a wonderful improvement from when I first joined you as President in 2005 when our membership was about 28,000. But we set ourselves targets to continually improve.

I think at this rate we will be third in club membership behind Richmond and Adelaide. The Tigers might even hit 100,000 members this year which is extraordinary, but ours is an equally wonderful achievement. However, I do want to hit 80,000 so please sign up before lists close in two weeks.

Well enough from me today.

Just remember life is all about change. Nothing stands still. And it is change that makes life interesting. As Cyril retires new faces are stepping up to be the holders of our next piece of silverware.

I am excited, I hope you are too!

Go Hawks and have a good day.


Jeff Kennett                                                                                                                                                                            President 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs