Each week during the AFL shutdown period, aflplayers.com.au will bring to light the perspective of someone at the heart of a memorable moment from a game played between two sides that would have been fixtured to play in the upcoming round. This week, we look at a classic Easter Monday clash between Hawthorn and Geelong from Round 2, 2012.
There are few rivalries in modern-day football that have continued to produce nail-biting clashes.
But, during an 11-game streak dubbed the ‘Kennett Curse’, Hawthorn and Geelong produced some of the most memorable games football has seen.
Following their 2008 Grand Final loss to the Hawks, the Cats went on to win the next 11 clashes in a period spanning 2009 through to the Preliminary Final in 2013.
Former Geelong forward James Podsiadly, who played nine games against Hawthorn in his time at Geelong, said he felt the impact of the rivalry from the moment he arrived at the club.
“I started playing in 2010, but I actually joined the club as a high performance staff member shortly after the 2008 Grand Final… from that moment I can remember the significance of those games,” he told aflplayers.com.au.
In rainy conditions on Easter Monday in 2012, the tight tussle between the two clubs would be no different.
A series of missed goal-scoring opportunities for the Hawks in the final term allowed Geelong to snatch a come-from-behind victory and continue the infamous curse.
Despite trailing by 18 points at three-quarter time, Podsiadly said the belief in the group never wavered.
“We always had this internal belief that we were fitter and stronger than Hawthorn as a club,” he said.
“Hawthorn was a highly-skilled side that could use the ball really well, but we thought we could match it with them for longer in the contest.”
Kicking five goals from 15 disposals, including three in the final quarter, Podsiadly was a crucial player in the Cats’ comeback.
Supported by a best-on-ground performance from Tom Hawkins (three goals, 22 disposals), and a midfield group consisting of Jimmy Bartel and Joel Selwood, the Cats were able to claw their way back.
With wet conditions generally not suited to key forwards, Podsiadly said the message from coach Chris Scott was not to let if affect them.
“I think the old mentality of it being a defender’s day when it is wet, because it’s harder for a forward to handle the ball, was something I tried to not let affect me,” Podsiadly explained.
“I tried to play that to my advantage because potentially defenders may have been a bit more complacent going into the game and off their guard.”
Although his recollection of game specifics are a little hazy eight years on, Podsiadly said the magnitude of playing in the now annual Easter Monday clash was never lost on him.
“To wait the long weekend and know you would be on centre stage come Monday afternoon added an element of pressure, but it was something the players would thrive off,” he said.
“Coaches and players always downplay the significance of (winning a game like that) because you’re thinking one week at a time, but when you retire and reflect on your career, those are the games that you do actually remember and the quality of the teams that you did beat.”