After a disappointing time in Sydney, we are very much looking forward to embracing our next block of games, now that we have arrived and settled here in Perth. We have settled in well and very much looking forward to our first challenge, against Carlton this Friday evening.
We all, including those of us in the hub and our members across Australia, particularly those in Victoria, continue to face challenges we could not have anticipated or prepared for, and I am very aware that footy is one of the few things that continues to bring some normality to our lives. I have complete faith that our football department, headed up by our coach Alastair Clarkson, is doing everything possible to turn this season around for our members. We have a proud history of rising against the tide and I am sure we can, and will, turn our season around in what remains of 2020.
There is plenty riding on our game against the Blues tomorrow night. There are many pieces that need to come together to change our current fortunes, but our good record at Optus Stadium and the way the stadium suits our game style puts us in a good position.
Recently, external noise and those in the media have questioned Alastair Clarkson’s future at our club. I want to take this opportunity to make it very clear to the most important people in our Hawthorn family, our members, that Alastair Clarkson is absolutely, and without question, the man best placed to put us into a strong position to contest for our next piece of silverware.
I’ve been fortunate enough to watch closely and have many discussions with the coach and our Head of Football Graham Wright in the past few days, and one thing not in question is their commitment to the challenge, and our faith in them to deliver.
There has also been speculation around our list and where we head from here. Last week 6 of our players were 21-years-old or under. In addition to this some of our best performers in recent weeks are guys who are 26 years-old or younger, including Sicily, O’Meara, Mitchell, and Hardwick. We feel confident that every player in our side can play important roles, and that are laying solid foundations to ensure sustainable success. In the past month we have injected 3 new debutants into the side; Harry Jones, Josh Morris and Will Day. Keegan Brooksky, a mature recruit, has also played his first game in the brown and gold and was well prepared to fill the void left last week by Jon Ceglar, who missed due to a minor injury. We are in great shape with our emerging talent and we are excited to see more of these uncut gems gain exposure to the big league in the weeks ahead.
We celebrate two milestones this week, Jaeger O’Meara and Sam Frost, both of whom will clock up 100 AFL games in our Round 9 clash against Carlton.
Faced with a career threatening run of knee injuries, Jaeger has overcome the odds and repaid the faith, developing into one of the club’s most reliable and effective midfielders. He leads by example in his dedication to his training and looking after his body to get the best out of it week after week. It has been a real pleasure watching Jaeger settle into his role as co-vice-captain in 2020. As a WA import, a positive piece of news is that Jaeger’s family will be at the match to see him play his 100th game. Due to quarantine restrictions he will be unable to see them up close, but it is still a wonderful stroke of luck that they will be able to see him play this milestone.
While he is one of the newest additions to the club, Sam Frost has made his presence felt since arriving at the Hawks and We have all been impressed with his ability to gel with the team and our playing style so quickly. He has shown up for us in every match this year, playing his role and bringing stellar effort. “Frosty” is fast becoming a Hawks players and fans favourite and we look forward to many more games watching him stream out of defence.
While normally these milestones would mean a changeroom full of people after the match, that is not the case under our current restrictions, however the extended Hawthorn family is a strong force and I know that you will be there on Friday afternoon with us, cheering Jaeger, Sam and the entire squad on from home.
We don’t yet know where we will be headed after Perth, but we remain hopeful and in positive conversations with the AFL and the Tasmanian Government, that we will head to Tassie in 2020 and be able to play a series of home games at our home-away-from-home at UTAS Stadium.
I’d like to close out this letter with a heartfelt thanks to all our members and an acknowledgement of the unique and challenging times you are all facing. You have stuck by us through one of the most difficult and unknown periods in our history, all while facing much uncertainty yourselves. You are an enormous part of the beating heart of our football club. While our last game in Sydney ended in a loss, we saw glimmers of the competitive edge we need to bring to win games and I am confident that we will only see more of that this week. I know we are all hungry for a win and our players are too!