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

Dear Hawkers

Welcome to 2020.

What the year holds for us, who knows. That said I am very confident that our collective strengths and professionalism will do us all proud yet again.

Alastair Clarkson is in a very good place, relaxed, happy and ready to weave his magic again.

The players are being brought to their peak. They completed their training camp in December and have now resumed pre-season training.

This year, we will have a wonderful and exciting combination of new and experience, young and mature players. A cocktail that bodes well for the future.

While we are all increasingly focused on the year ahead, unfortunately it’s been a difficult start to 2020 for some of our members who have been caught up in the fires that have, or are, spreading across the land.

Therefore, my first message is to those Hawthorn Members who have been so affected. If you have, please get in touch with us and we will see if we can offer you some practical help.

Even if you do not require assistance, I would like to know if you have been affected so we might all get together - perhaps at one of our games which we might designate to those members who have experienced hardship as a result of the fires.

We have established a specific email address to register those of our members who have been affected: bushfirerelief@hawthornfc.com.au. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

If the fires have taken a mental toll on you or your loved ones, Beyond Blue has developed a dedicated information page about mental health and bushfires.

It contains practical advice about dealing with the emotional impact of bushfires, information about the signs and symptoms of emotional distress, tips for supporting children and young people and links to several useful websites. 

I would also like to inform you of what the club is doing in response to the fires.

We have donated $50,000 via the AFL as part of the league’s $2.5m contribution which has gone to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, as well as helping to establish a community relief fund for grassroots facilities.

On Friday 28 February, the Hawthorn and St Kilda Football Clubs will host an Emergency Services themed practice match in Morwell.

Entry will be free, but we hope those travelling from around the state will make a donation to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

The match will be an opportunity to thank local firefighters, emergency services workers and volunteers, while Beyond Blue and Headspace Morwell will be on the ground to provide mental health advice and techniques for those who have been impacted.

We encourage footy fans from around the country to make a day of it and support the Gippsland community by visiting cafes and retailers before heading to the match.

In Round 3 on Saturday 4 April, we will be staging our second annual Emergency Services Match, presented by BankVic, when we take on Collingwood at the MCG.

This was a great success last year and both clubs will build on that success this year. More details will follow in the weeks to come but please, pencil in the date. It will be a great game for a great cause.

As we have done in the past, in similar circumstances, our players and staff have donated time to assist in fire-affected areas.

We stand ready to do so again. When emergency services personnel advise it is safe to do so, and when our physical labour can make a positive difference, we will return to the field.

If any member can identify a task that our people can undertake, please let us know on the bushfire email address above.

Finally, many staff, players, coaches and Board members are making individual donations. Of course, that is a personal decision, but one so many of our people are eager to do.

All I can say is these fires have been devastating, and a reminder of how quickly situations can change.

We at Hawthorn never take for granted the benefits we share as members of this wonderful club.

Football is our business, but our family - our members - are the reason we exist and our first responsibility. And then our broader community.

Your club, Hawthorn stands ready to serve in the best way we can. Football is important. But family and community more so.

I will write again when the situation becomes clearer. For any of our members so affected please contact us.

Stay safe.

Jeff Kennett