Three premierships in three consecutive years is a massive achievement. Massive. And this batch of Hawks might be the greatest ever, but Parkin’s reasons for claiming this to be true seemed to be only telling part of the story.
Parkin states “To do what they have done in this modern era, with 18 clubs and with the competition geared up so that you can’t achieve multiple success, as far as salary caps, drafting and concessions, is incredible.”
I should mention that Hawthorn’s list management over the past few years has been second to none, they have recruited shrewdly. Shaun Burgoyne was a huge risk at the time, due to knee problems, but one that paid off in spades. They also traded for David Hale, Josh Gibson, Jack Gunstan and Ben McEvoy, all of whom have fitted seamlessly into the line-up. BUT there are other factors at play which have allowed the Hawks to stay ahead of the pack.
Firstly, timing. Hawthorn’s timing was impeccable. On the back of a poor 2004 season, and with the assistance of Fremantle in 2001, they drafted a group of players who, come 2011 and beyond, would be in their footballing prime and become the backbone of their side for years to come . This timing proved to be doubly beneficial when Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney joined the competition in 2011 & 2012 respectively.
When you consider that the draft is the mechanism by which the lower clubs rebuild and push back up towards the top of the ladder, the introduction of these two teams effectively halted the progress of those teams looking to climb into the eight and challenge the incumbent sides. Over two years the majority of the top end draft talent, and a host of under-age selections were handed to these new sides. This meant that any club looking to improve their list through the draft had to do so with mainly late draft and rookie selections. And as a result, this has maintained the status quo.
Imagine if a club like Fremantle was able to get their hands on a young star such as Jeremy Cameron or Tom Lynch. The footballing landscape might look a bit different.
Add to this, Hawthorn have been the beneficiaries of the newly implemented free-agency rule, a rule designed to give fringe players at top clubs the opportunity to move to lower clubs to get more game time and also lift the lower clubs up the ladder. This rule has also allowed two of the league’s best defenders in Brian Lake and James Frawley, to select the team they thought best placed to win a flag, and make their way to that club with little or no fuss.
So Mr Parkin, don’t tell me that the 18 team competition and free-agency have made it harder for the Hawks to stay at the top of the ladder, they have made it easier.