Hawks' culture sets them apart: Matthews - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks' culture sets them apart: Matthews

By Sam Lienert 20/08/2009 04:27:29 PM Comments (0)

AFL legend Leigh Matthews believes Hawthorn have a character and culture which has set them apart from other clubs over the past 50 years.

As a four-time Hawthorn premiership player, who went on to coach four premierships elsewhere - one with Collingwood and three with Brisbane - Matthews is perhaps uniquely qualified to judge.

Since winning their first VFL/AFL premiership in 1961, the Hawks have made it 10 in 48 years, including last year, making them the most successful club over that period.

Launching the Hawks' official history book, One For All, at the MCG on Thursday, Matthews said that record was about much more than talent.

"They've had competent people - competent players, competent coaches, competent administrators - but they've had good character," Matthews said.

"I haven't been at Hawthorn for 25 years but I think the same theme has continued on.

"I often said late in my playing career, most players were contracted, but I said at the time a handshake agreement would have been enough for me.

"Because you trusted the people, if they said that's what they're going to do, that's what they're going to do.

"I suspect that's still, even though everyone's contracted in the modern professional era, I think the trust is the bond amongst Hawthorn people."

Matthews said that bond extended to those no longer employed by the club.

"One thing that Hawthorn has done, they do appreciate people who have been part of their history and they embrace people who have been part of their history to come back and share their present," he said.

"... That culture has emanated out of Hawthorn for 50 or 60 years."

While One For All details the club's history from its establishment in 1902, Matthews said what made it unique was the frequent access the authors were given to the Hawks' inner sanctum in the five years leading up to their 2008 success.

"I don't think I would have done it as a coach ... but now that it's been done, the fact that there is this five-year history that is taking fans where they don't normally go is really unique," he said.

Despite winning a record eight best and fairests with the Hawks and captaining them, Matthews admitted he felt slightly strange launching the history of a club he has spent the best part of the past 24 years coaching against.

"I feel a little bit like Saddam Hussein giving a testimony for George Bush," he joked.

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