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50 years since a Legend was born

Knightsy is 'Always Hawthorn' Legend of the club, Peter Knights tells his experience in the brown and gold and why he is 'Always Hawthorn'.

Reflecting on all the topical milestones and achievements, past and present, as we head into Round 9 of the 2019 season. This is 'Footy Flashbacks'....

This round marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of one of Hawthorn’s greatest ever players, Peter Knights. 

Knights made his debut, as a 17- year old, against St Kilda at Moorabbin in Round 9, 1969. Lining up at centre half-forward, he had seven kicks and two handballs, and took the first mark of his spectacular high-flying career.

Knights went onto play 264 games from 1969 to 1985, a number which would have been much higher but for numerous injuries, most cruelly costing him a place in the 1971 Premiership team. However, he played in the 1976, 1978 and 1983 Flags, and twice finished runner-up in the Brownlow Medal. 

Knights’ 1969 debut game game was played in typically muddy Moorabbin conditions, which had a nasty postscript for Knights, when the mud got into a cut on his hand causing an infection and keeping him out of action for the next couple of weeks.  

The game was not a successful one for the Hawks. Going into Round 9, Hawthorn had won seven of eight, but the one defeat, to Carlton in Round 2, had been by a massive 128 points.  This game produced a second defeat – St Kilda 14.11.95 defeated Hawthorn 7.7.49. Peter Hudson booted four goals, while the best players were Rod Olsson, Ray Wilson, Neil Ferguson, Des Meagher and Ken Beck. 

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Isaac Smith’s late withdrawal last Sunday brought to an end his sequence of 96 consecutive games, which stretched back to Round 8 2015. The longest current sequence now belongs to Blake Hardwick who has played 51 consecutive games.

If Smith had reached 100 consecutive Hawthorn games, he would have become just the fifth individual to reach the milestone joining Andrew Collins (189 consecutive games, 1988-96), Michael Tuck (138, 1974-80), Kelvin Moore (128, 1978-83) and Shaun Burgoyne (107, 2013-18). Two other Hawthorn players, Allan Woodley and Ian Law, are credited with 100 consecutive games by the AFL, but these include state games for Victoria on days when Hawthorn was playing. 

 

The GWS Giants’ score of 5.8.38 last Sunday was the lowest score to which Hawthorn had restricted an opponent since keeping Adelaide to 4.8.32 in Round 13 last season.

 

The fact that Hawthorn is playing on Sunday again this week means that it narrowly misses out on playing on Federal Election day. In the past, the Hawks have played on six Federal Election days.

In a strange quirk, Hawthorn wins on Federal Election days (in 1943, 1974, 1987 and 2010) have coincided with Labor election victories, while Hawthorn losses (in 1951 and 1954) coincided with Coalition electoral success. However, this pattern does not hold when the games are on the same weekend, but not the actual day, because after Hawthorn won the Qualifying Final on a Friday night in 2013, it was the Coalition which won the following day’s election.

 

Hawthorn will be aiming to overcome two recent hoodoos this Sunday. Firstly, Richmond is the only club against which the Hawks have lost their last three games and secondly Round 9 is the only round in which Hawthorn has currently lost three consecutive games.

Hawthorn’s three successive losses games against Richmond is the Hawks’ longest losing streak against the Tigers since a run of six consecutive defeats from 1995 to 1998.

Overall, Hawthorn has played Richmond 158 times, for 70 wins and 88 losses, the deficit being wholly accounted for by Hawthorn losing the first 21 games between the two clubs from 1925 to 1936. The Tigers also won 11 in a row from 1947 to 1953. The Hawks’ best sequences of wins against Richmond were 16 (1985-94) and 10 (1959-64). 

Overall, Hawthorn has played 93 matches in Round 9 for 42 wins and 51 defeats, having had a bye in this round in 2014. The Hawks only lost twice in Round 9 between 2005 and 2015, but they have suffered losses in the past three seasons going down to Sydney (2016), Collingwood (2017) and West Coast (2018).

10 years ago, in Round 9 2009, Hawthorn recorded a comfortable 22-point win against Melbourne – 17.12.114 to 13.14.92 - although it should probably have been a bigger margin as the Hawks led by 47 points at the final change. The highlight of the day was the debut of Beau Muston who in his fourth year on the Hawthorn list, and after multiple knee reconstructions, made a stunning debut with 31 disposals and a goal. 

25 years ago, in Round 9 1994, Hawthorn’s stunning revival continued when the kept Adelaide scoreless in two quarters on the way to a massive 97-point win at Football Park – 22.13.145 to 7.6.48. Jason Dunstall kicked nine goals, but only got one Brownlow vote. It was impossible to argue with the three votes which went to the irrepressible John Platten, who gathered 37 possessions and kicked six goals. 

30 years ago, in Round 9 1989, Hawthorn defeated Footscray by 44 points at the Western Oval – 17.15.117 to 10.13.73. On this occasion, Jason Dunstall kicked five goals, while John Platten had 31 disposals and kicked a goal.

Jason Dunstall had an amazing season against Richmond in 1992, booting a club record 17 goals in Round 7 and following it up with a further bag of 12 in Round 22. In his whole career, Dunstall kicked 111 goals against Richmond, behind only his 116 against the Bulldogs.

Peter Hudson holds the Round 9 record, booting 10 in a 30-point victory over Fitzroy at Glenferrie in 1968.

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