HAWKINS CLAN – A footballing family from Finley NSW

Tom HawkinsThe Hawkins clan are an exceptional footballing family from Finley in southern NSW.

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.

He was renowned for his vertical leaping to take marks on the last line of defence. He was the school high jump champion. Hence his nickname, “Jumping Jack”.Jumping <br>Jack Hawkins

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.

Wynne HawkinsThe 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

SOME NSW PLAYERS IN GRAND FINALS

As it did when Sydney won in 2012, this year the premiership will feature New South Welshmen.  But the question is, how many?

Today though, presents an opportune time to reflect on the best performances by New South Wales players in some VFL/AFL grand finals.

1. Lenny Hayes (Pennant Hills) – St Kilda v Collingwood, 2010 (drawn grand final)

Lenny Hayes produced the greatest grand final performance from a New South Wales player when he starred in the 2010 drawn grand final.

In the process, Hayes received the honour of being the first player from NSW to win the Norm Smith Medal “ a clear winner by six votes over the next best player.

The statistics confirm Hayes’ dominance in this match, as he was the leading possession winner on the ground with 32, as well as racking up a game-high 12 tackles.

2. Tom ˜Tomahawk” Hawkins (Finley) Geelong v Collingwood, 2011

The high rating for Tom Hawkins is due to his momentum stealing second half in the 2011 decider.

Every time Collingwood gained the momentum in the third quarter of this grand final, Hawkins kicked a goal to keep his Geelong team in the contest. The match see-sawed as a contest until Hawkin’s third goal in the quarter put the Cats up by eight points, and from that point onwards Geelong seized control of the match.

The marks that Hawkins took in the last quarter had the commentators in raptures. “He’s playing out of his skin, Tom Hawkins,” said commentator Anthony Hudson after Hawkins took a strong contested mark in the last quarter.

Just a few minutes later, Hawkins took a one-handed mark while fending off his opponent with his other hand. “Hawkins again, oh this is amazing, who is this man?” Hudson said.

3. Chris Laird (Paddington) – South Melbourne v Collingwood, 1918

Chris Laird has generally been overlooked as a great grand final player due to the passing of time since the 1918 grand final, yet he kicked one of the most important goals in grand final history.

If the VFL had awarded a best on ground medal back in the 1918 grand final then the Sydney recruit would have been in line to take that award.

He kicked the winning goal for the red and whites against Collingwood with just 30 seconds remaining in the match, and was also the equal top goal scorer in the match with three goals to his name.

Without Laird’s final goal, Collingwood would have most likely won this match, so Laird’s influence could not have been more pronounced.

4. Gordon Strang (East Albury) – Richmond v Carlton, 1932

The Sporting Globe’s W.S. “Jumbo” Sharland listed Gordon Strang as Richmond’s best player in the grand final of 1932 as a result of his dominance in marking contests.

This high rating was also backed up by the report in The Age, which wrote “One of the most outstanding was G. Strang, who was unbeatable in the aerial duels, and who pulled down sixteen marks.”

To put this feat in perspective, no one player since the 1990 grand final has taken this many marks in a grand final. For his aerial dominance alone, Strang deserves his spot as one of New South Wale’s best grand final performers.

5. Jarrad McVeigh (Pennant Hills) – Sydney v Hawthorn, 2012

The 2012 AFL grand final is the high point in Australian football history for New South Wales.

For starters, it legitimised the 2005 grand final victory as being more than just a flash in the pan moment. The players recruited from Sydney football clubs such as Kieren Jack and Lewis Roberts-Thomson also had a significant role in the match.

Furthermore, important history was created when Craig Bird became the first player to achieve premiership success after being recruited directly from a mid-northern NSW club (Nelson Bay).

Yet there was one New South Welshmen who, more than any other, led the way in the 2012 grand final – Jarrad McVeigh.

McVeigh accrued 21 disposals, laid nine tackles and, most importantly, kicked two goals. One of those goals was scored while he was matched up against Cyril Rioli and the other, when Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell gave away a 50-metre penalty during the third quarter, became the turning point in the match.

The ultimate team player, McVeigh had as many as 36 pressure acts against the opposition as well. The football purists say one-percenters, pressure acts, tackles and smothers win you football matches.

McVeigh’s performance in the 2012 grand final was one for the football purist.

The other players considered were Brett Kirk (for his role in the 2005 grand final for Sydney), Bert Clay (pictured – the 1944 ruckman for Fitzroy), Lewis Roberts-Thomson (the 2005 and 2012 premiership player from the North Shore), Frank Gumbleton (for his role in the 1975 grand final for North Melbourne) and Leo Barry (2005 premiership defender for Sydney from Deniliquin).

In this case, they fell just outside the top five.

Article, courtesy of Miles Wilks