The Roar
The Roar


Lose tonight and Hawthorn can forget about their 'three-peat'

10th September, 2015
3221 Reads

Are Hawthorn a genuine chance at winning three premierships in a row? We’ll know more after tonight’s game against West Coast in Perth, but history suggests that the mighty Hawks will struggle to achieve the prestigious hat trick.


Of course, had everything gone to plan, Hawthorn would have already won three premierships on the trot. They were raging hot favourites to win the grand final back in 2012, but were upset by a tenacious Sydney side which refused to follow the script.

Just think, had the Swans succumbed that year, Hawthorn could very well be attempting a record equalling fourth premiership in a row – an occurrence so rare that it has only ever happened once before!


It highlights how long Hawthorn have been at the very top of their game. A shot at the ‘three-peat’ means they must qualify for their fourth grand final in a row, a feat only achieved once since the AFL era began in 1990.

The Brisbane Lions were the all-conquering team to do that, appearing in the last game of the season each year from 2001 to 2004. They won the first three grand finals of that run, but were cooked by the fourth, falling to a highly motivated and hungrier Port Adelaide side.

I am not quite prepared to say that Hawthorn are cooked, but it will take remarkable endurance, both mental and physical, if the Hawks are to successfully navigate their way through this year’s finals series.


In a way it has been a long year for the Hawks. They started slowly, winning only four of their first eight games, before an eight-game winning streak mid-season put them well and truly back into contention.

At times they were so dominant they left us all scratching our heads and wondering how any other team in the competition was going to get near them. But only at times. Sometimes they were pushed and looked vulnerable, and late-season losses to Richmond and Port Adelaide showed they were anything but invincible leading into the finals.

There is a general feeling that other teams no longer fear Hawthorn. Whether this new-found confidence comes back to bite those teams remains to be seen, but to face the Hawks with belief rather than trepidation must be a step in the right direction for clubs wanting to make their mark over the coming weeks.

This increased belief by opposition clubs is just one of a number of hurdles that Hawthorn need to clear if the three-peat is to become a reality.

The disruption to their coaching panel is another. Assistant Brendan Bolton has left the club to chase his dream of becoming a senior coach at Carlton, while Brett Ratten’s absence due to a family tragedy has already been well-documented.

The off-field drama of captain Luke Hodge being charged with a drink driving offence on the eve of the finals is another unwelcome distraction.


In isolation these incidents don’t seem like much, but when put together over the space of a few weeks, the media attention and speculation builds up. This in turn takes its toll on officials and players alike, who are constantly questioned about the events by everyone from well-meaning mates and family to rabid journalists wanting to score gossipy scoops over their rivals. Despite the denials by those in clubland, unwanted attention is not only distracting, but tiring as well.

The biggest hurdle to Hawthorn’s three-peat comes tonight though. A trip to Perth to face the West Coast Eagles on their home turf is one of the toughest assignments in footy. The travel factor is a part of it, but so too is the home-crowd support. If the Eagles get any sort of run on the crowd will lift them all the way to the final siren.

And there is every chance that the Eagles will get a run on at some stage. They have powerful forwards, a very solid defence, and a midfield and following division being given first use of the footy by an in-form and very exciting Nic Naitanui.

So can the Hawks do it? Can they claim a magical hat trick?

If they nullify Nic Nat’s influence tonight and progress through the first week of the finals unscathed they can, but consider this: the near mythical Hawthorn teams of the 1980s played in eight grand finals in nine years and were unable to do better than back-to-back flags. That gives some indication as to the enormity of the task.

This current Hawthorn team is certainly capable of triumph, but they must win tonight if they are to have any chance. That is non-negotiable. Lose and the final hurdle becomes insurmountable.