Andrew Johnston

May 03, 2018

THIS Saturday, Hawthorn take on Essendon for the first time this year.

This is a game that, as a Hawthorn fan, I circle in the calendar the day the fixture comes out.

Those games, as well as Geelong and North Melbourne, are highlighted because I hate those clubs.

It’s easy as a fan to find yourself invested in rivalries.

I think rivalries are amazing.

There is something special about rivalries in football.

Actually, there is something special about rivalries in all sports.

They motivate you even more when games come around.

I think Hawthorn and Essendon is one of the best rivalries in sport.

It’s not the longest in the VFL/AFL and it wasn’t born out of class warfare like many were.

Hawthorn and Essendon was simply about the best teams trying to beat each other.

In the 1980s, Hawthorn and Essendon faced off against each other in three grand finals.

These weren’t just good games of football, these were bloodbaths.

All-in brawls at every turn.

The players were motivated by wanting to be the best, but for fans it became about hatred.

I have an odd memory about the ‘‘line in the sand’’ game in 2004.

I don’t love fights in footy, never really have.

I was 10 at the time so it didn’t change my view.

The older I got, the more it means.

This wasn’t about fighting because Hawthorn wanted to fight.

They wanted to make a point.

Essendon hadn’t lost to us since 1997.

Something had to change.

We got thumped in that game, but where have those two clubs gone since?

I’ll consider it a win.

I love watching great rivals play each other.

The Red Sox and the Yankees is a big one.

That’s also helped by the fact that my boss is a Yankees fan.

This year, the games have gotten more intense.

Punch-ups, players nearly getting hit by pitches — it’s all very exciting.

The great basketball rivalry that is the Celtics and the Lakers is starting to reheat.

The Celtics have a great side and the Lakers are starting to rise after a few years of being pretty average.

Liverpool and Everton in a Merseyside Derby, Tottenham and Arsenal, City and United, all great rivalries.

Admittedly soccer is far from my favourite sport, but when you do watch these games you can feel that something is special.

I love me a good local rivalry.

North Launceston v Launceston in my home town back in Tassie was always special.

I remember my dad telling me my great-grandmother would be turning in her grave knowing I barracked for North Launceston.

I love that kind of stuff.

So now I look forward to another match against the enemy, another heated argument with my cousin Joe afterwards, and hopefully, another win for the brown and gold.

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