Kennett tells Hawks to seize the day - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kennett tells Hawks to seize the day

24/09/2008 07:03:37 PM Comments (0)

Like Gough Whitlam in 1972, the message from Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett is "It's Time".

Kennett, the ex-Victorian Liberal Premier, would loath the analogy with the former Labor Prime Minister, but the sentiment was the same as he gave a rousing speech three days out from the AFL grand final against Geelong.

It's Time was the theme of the Labor national election campaign 26 years ago and this week Hawthorn feel the same way.

The Hawks are clearly on the cusp of a new golden era and Kennett said at a club luncheon it was vital that the team seize their chance.

While Hawthorn will start outsiders against the defending premiers, their president said he was "quietly confident" they could win.

"Don't anyone believe the circumstances we enjoy now will be repeated in any one of those years over the next three or four years when we're in this zone," Kennett said.

"Things will change each year. It's why winning on Saturday is so important.

"We respect Geelong. We don't fear them. This is our opportunity.

"To be quite honest, the ball is in our court."

Kennett said this was only the second time that he had been part of an organisation where the values, enthusiasm and skills were so strong.

The other was when he led the Liberals to power in Victoria during the early 1990s.

"I've only (had) this experience twice in my life, where all the things are coming together at once, where people are happy to be together," he said.

"It's happening now at Hawthorn and it happened in the first three years of our government ... within our own party, I'm not saying the public appreciated it."

Apart from building a strong team, the Hawks have also rebuilt their finances.

Twelve years ago, they came close to merging with Melbourne, now they are established at a new headquarters in suburban Waverley.

"The big difference between a club that plays grand finals in 2008 as opposed to those who don't, is their commercial base and how they can provide that support to their coaches and players," Kennett said.

He added that from the coach and board members through to the ladies who voluntarily make lunch for the players, the club is full of good people.

"There is no substitute for good values, there is no substitute for a good culture," he said.

"That is not to say at some stage, one of us in the near future ... may not do something we regret doing when we wake up the next day.

"But the fundamentals at Hawthorn now I think are as good as they've ever been, certainly in recent history."

Hawks legend John Kennedy Snr, who coached the first of the club's nine premierships in 1961, used his guest speech at the lunch to poke fun at the Cats.

Kennedy noted 1963, when the Cats beat Hawthorn in the grand final after a season where relations between the two clubs were "electrically fierce".

The Cats had been unhappy at the Hawks' physical playing style.

"Geelong's theme song says ... `we play the game as it should be played' - how precious can you get?," Kennedy joked.

But there could be a serious side to that on Saturday, with the current Hawks also noted for their fiercely physical approach to the game.

Physical clashes were also a feature of these two clubs' other grand final, the 1989 epic that the Hawks won by a goal.

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