Four members of the family were on the selection list for the NSW Greatest Team.
Current Geelong power forward Tom Hawkins, who was named an All-Australian for the second time in 2019, was selected on the interchange bench in the NSW Greatest Team.
His father, Jack, was in serious contention for a back pocket berth but was edged out by dual premiership players Chris Lethbridge (Sydney YMCA/Fitzroy) and Ross Henshaw (North Albury/North Melbourne).
Jack’s brothers, Michael and Robb, who both played in the VFL for Geelong, were also on the list.
Since being drafted under the father-son rule by Geelong in 2006, Tom Hawkins has played 254 games for the Cats. In his football career to date he has won two premierships (2009 & 2011), seven leading goal-kicking awards, a club best and fairest (2012), and booted 550 goals (at the end round 22, 2019).
Hawkins was born and raised in Finley and went to the local high school before moving south to be a boarder at Melbourne Grammar, a school his father also attended. He played his early football for Finley in the Murray League as well as when returning home for school holidays.
“Away from the farm, I loved playing sport – I played football and cricket for Finley. There used to be social tennis on Monday night, and I enjoyed that. My parents encouraged us to be involved in sport”, he told Country Style (1 May 2018).
Tom’s father, “Jumping” Jack Hawkins was a cult-figure at Geelong where he played from 1973 to 1981 accumulating 182 games and kicking twenty goals. He also represented Victoria.
Jack suffered a serious knee injury in 1982 which resulted in his retirement from football in 1983.
He went home to the farm but could only play only one game for the local side due to the debilitating knee injury. He did however play in a premiership team for Finley in 1971 with his brother Michael. They beat Deniliquin in the grand final under journeyman country football coach Wally Mumford.
Jack later became president of the Finley Football Club from 1987-89 and then served on the MFL executive from 1990 including the last nine years as president until he stepped down at the end of last season.
He said he needed more time to relax and time to see both of his sons play football.
“I’ve been trying to balance out Murray league duties and watch Charlie playing for Finley as well as travelling to Geelong to watch Tom”, he told the Southern Riverina Weekly (3 January 2018).
Michael played two senior games on match permits with Geelong in 1973 when Finley had byes. He replaced the injured Ian “Bluey” Hampshire as first ruck.
He continued to play for Finley and was a key member of the 1981-82 premierships under ex Fitzroy player Mark Newton. He was also a regular Murray league representative in NSW State and country championship fixtures. Michael was recently inducted into the Finley Football Club Hall of Fame.
Robb Hawkins also went to Geelong under zoning but after not playing a senior game he went to South Adelaide in the SANFL in 1979 where he carved out a niche career of 115 games, two best and fairest awards, and state selection in 1981.
He returned to Geelong in 1984 but only played three games. He went to Sydney in 1984 but injuries curtailed his career at the highest level.
Robb returned home to the farm and to play for Finley. He led the club to the 1988 premiership. He has had three stints coaching the club as well as coaching juniors and a member of the match committee.
The father of the Hawkins brothers, Wynne, played for near neighbours and arch rivals, Tocumwal. He sought a clearance from Toc. when he moved to a farm near to Finley. It was denied and he never played again. He was aged in his mid-twenties.
There is a history of acrimony between Tocumwal and Finley. This is captured on the Tocumwal Football Club’s website, which has excellent coverage of the club’s history. There is a section entitled “Bloody Finley”, which details some of the more colourful incidents between the two clubs. ( http://websites.sportstg.com/club_info.cgi?c=1-6191-147841-522354-26427634&sID=382344).
One of the most interesting concerns the coach of the NSW Greatest Team and legendary St Kilda & Hawthorn premiership coach Allan Jeans.
Jeans was recruited to St Kilda from Finley in 1955, but he was originally a Tocumwal player. He was enticed to play for Finley in 1952 by a good offer to play and work in a local pub when the 1951 Toc. coach Bert DeAbbel went to coach Finley and run the Albion Hotel. Tocumwal refused the clearance and Jeans stood out of football for a year. He was cleared to Finley the next year.
Finley has been a rich source of players for the VFL/AFL. Other players on the NSW Greatest Team list from Finley are David Murphy (Sydney Swans), Peter Baldwin (Geelong), Damian Sexton (St Kilda), Bert Taylor (Melbourne), Darren Jackson (Geelong), Shane Crawford (Hawthorn) and Mark Whiley (GWS & Carlton).
However, it is the Hawkins that name is the most strongly linked with Finley and they have all contributed significantly to the Finley FC, the Murray League and the game in NSW.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: David Murphy (Sydney), Hamish Bull (Deniliquin), Mick Taylor & Mark O’Bryan (champions and stalwarts of the Finley Football Club) and the Tocumwal Football Club) for information and feedback. Author – Rod Gillett