Wearing a new jumper this season, Jonathon Patton is primed to have a big return to senior footy.
The 2015 AFL grand final is done and dusted, and the Hawks are once again a happy, happy team. What does their win mean for the history of the game? And what does it mean for the future?
The best of all time
It’s a legitimate question, and one that you will hear asked time and time again over the coming weeks. After winning a third premiership in as many years – and their fourth under Alastair Clarkson – should this Hawthorn side be considered the best of all time?
It’s a good question but like a lot of good questions it really has no answer, simply because of how hard it is to compare sides across the gap of time. No one can really say with any certainty whether this side is better than, say, the Brisbane Lions of 2001-2003, let alone Collingwood of 1927-1930.
After achieving just the sixth three peat in the history of the game – and only the second of the last fifty years – it’s fair to say this Hawks side has put themselves into that conversation. And really, that’s an enormous achievement.
Can they do four?
That Collingwood side of 1927-1930 is the only team in VFL/AFL history to have gone one better than the three flags in a row that Hawthorn has today achieved. The big question now is whether the Hawks can equal their achievement in 2016.
You’d have to think it’s a very reasonable proposition. Like most premiership sides, the Hawks should enter next year as the premiership favourites, and after another dominant Grand Final day display from them, you have to wonder who is going to be able to beat them next time around.
The Eagles will be raring to take another run at it, the likes of Sydney and Fremantle will be up there again, and teams like Port Adelaide, North Melbourne and Richmond will all be hoping they can take the next step.
In the end though, we might be about to spend 2016 watching Hawthorn make history – again.
Come to Hawthorn, win a premiership
This could pretty much be the club’s recruiting slogan after three consecutive years of flags all of which have been heralded by a big off-season recruit.
Brian Lake sums this up better than anyone else – feeling a bit washed-up at the Bulldogs at the end of 2012, he accepted a tempting offer from the Hawks at the end of that year and has never looked back.
He may have just played the last game of his career but if he only had a three-year ride at Hawthorn, well, he had about the best three-year ride anyone could possibly ask for.
Who will be the next big name player to join the Hawthorn family and experience great success, along with the likes of Lake, Ben McEvoy, James Frawley, Shaun Burgoyne, Josh Gibson, David Hale or Jack Gunston? Patrick Dangerfield’s phone will be ringing off the hook.
The vest gets the vest
For all the fans who sat through the Grand Final with the kind of interest you would watching the same movie for the thousandth time, don’t worry, there is still some aspect of today’s game you should be excited about – the last sub vest, hopefully ever.
Safe to say that fiddling with the rules has never been a popular decision in the eyes of the AFL community but the sub vest has attracted more ire than most.
It doesn’t do any major damage to the game really but, especially in big games like this, it can just feel a bit silly to have a player forcibly sit out the match until late in the game.
Imagine how Matt Rosa for example must have felt coming on late in the match today knowing that the Grand Final was already lost and he had no real role to play. Not a great feeling.
In 2016, the sub vest is gone, hopefully for good. Get excited.
What now for the Eagles?
There’s few feelings as devastating for a team than to have come so far in pursuit of the premiership only to fall short at the final hurdle, and it’s made all the worse when the side puts in a poor performance like the Eagles did today.
They had a few patches of good play but really they were under the thumb for the majority of the day and they will spend a lot of time reflecting on the early opportunities that were missed.
The likes of Luke Shuey and Jack Darling in particular had some real nightmare moments in the first half that if they had gone differently – well, who knows what might have happened.
The Eagles shouldn’t feel too down and out in the end. They’ve got an excellent side and they look to be embarking on a really successful period for the club. They’re a good chance to be back here again next year, though there’s a lot of work to do between now and then.