Essendon and Hawthorn: The Beginning of a Rivalry

There’s approximately 22,000 at Princes Park on a winters day Round 8 1983, from memory it’s capacity was about 35k, so perhaps a below average crowd. Can anyone clarify if the hit on Alan Stoneham is potentially the very starting point of this rivalry?

Was something brewing earlier when Jeans and Sheedy were hired, or perhaps the 1983 GF with Watson felled by Robertson and the hiding. I was only a kid and wasn’t there the day Stoneham got hit but the match prior to this stage, there seems a lethargy between opposing fans. Whenever Hawthorn fans try to spark up something about the rivalry, I like to remind them they’re down the food chain and can wait in line behind a few other clubs. Was fortunate enough to be at 1984 and did I (didn’t we) loathe them as a kid but by the 90’s I couldn’t care less and disliked their premiership sides of recent years.

1 Like

That hit probably was the beginning. There was also the smelling salts controversy where Sheeds questioned what the Hawks players were sniffing at quarter time breaks and Don Scott, whilst not directly naming him, inferring that Merrett was used as Sheeds’ hit man. All of these controversies happened around the same time.


The Hitman allegations happened just before the start of the 1983 finals series. Merrett would be reported in the Grand Final.

The Smelling salts allegations took place after hawthorn defeated Essendon in the 1984 second semi final. The allegations were unfounded.

These 2 incidents helped fuel the rivalry that started at Princes Park in 1983. The return game in 1983 at Windy Hill, round 19, saw a couple of Essendon players reported for hitting Dipper, one was Garry Foulds I believe.


Nothing would get a rivalry going more than three grand finals on the bounce, though. :grinning:

Yep. At school I loathed them more than any other but it pretty much died once they became rubbish in the 90’s. Their fans still seem to claim it with us big time. I happened upon that video and had seen a snippet of Stoneham before but occurred to me that there might not be a great amount of feeling prior to it. Their only rivalry to date was probably North. We were in the midst of a five year winning streak against Carlton, what a time to be alive.

l always say that Dipper had the sharpest elbows in the business. Could play and was a dynamic, tough player in full flight but l remember him as one of long line of Dawk thug/mugs. It wasn’t just the elbow on Walsh in the '84 GF that l loathe him for. He courageously splattered Curly Austin’s nose all over his face with another cheap elbow shot around the same time. Dawk rivalry? Derm the germ tries to build it up every year or two, but they can get in line behind a few other and far greater rivalries.

1 Like

At the end of the 80s, Geoff Poulter in the Herald listed the 10 worst displays of thuggery of the decade.

IIRC, 8, if not 9, of them were committed by Hawthorn players, one of them even by Gary Buckenara who wasn’t a dirty player…but he cleaned up Michael Nettlefold of Fitzroy way off the ball.

Most of them were Matthews, Brereton and Dipper. Gary Ayres wasn’t bad either, but unheralded as a thug.


It was Ken Judge who hit Nettlefold. Still one of the dirtiest acts I’ve seen. Standing on the edge of the centre square during the centre bounce.

You’re right. Buckenara was one of the 9 though.

Its one thing that they were so tough (see thugs) in the 80’s but what I despise most about Hawthorn is that their supporters are the most whiny little biatches around if anything at all gets dished back to them.


The fact we have it over these p####s in grand finals pleases me no end. The 84 gf and that last quarter stills burns in their guts. Most whiney arrogant pack of fwits I have ever come across.

1 Like

The bleating I copped in the 90s and early oughties was ridiculous. Even the incident that they reckon precipitated the line in the sand - Mark Johnson tipped a guy 25cm taller and 25+ kgs heavier on his scone, and they whined and whined. I reckon Vandenberg, Brown, Picioane and Bateman inter al should have been arrested and escorted from the field. I don’t really, but it was good to wind up those whiney little biatches.

They even objected to my helpful suggestions that Roger Merrett was helping Kelvin Moore out with some family planning issues.


Those Hawthorn matches from the 80s set in stone my deep hatred for that club.
Hate them more than Collingwood or Fark Carlton.


There is a systemic arrogance from them as well, even when they were at their lowest ebb and on the verge of merger. I hate them so so much. It’s borders on unhealthy. But I’m completely comfortable that I’ve got a handle on it and it’s fine.


that makes one of us…

Their salt levels are so damn high with us, to an extent it is reciprocated but never seemed quite as much. Let’s face it, they were a complete non entity in this league for 40 years until a small, much forgotten rivalry developed with North in the late 70’s. It’s interesting to note that the fixture at Princes Park in 1983 where Stoneham’s nose was flattened across his face prior to the ensuing GF, was probably a good starting point. It’s noted by Peter Landy (a Hawthorn man) in the commentary that despite it being a cold day, there was a total of 20,000 odd in attendance and that Essendon’s number’s probably outnumbered Hawthorns on the day going by noise.

In recent years I feel it’s been eclipsed by their rivalry with Geelong and the fact that we have any number of clubs despise us. So, Hawthorn join the queue and know your order down the food chain is more my attitude.


You’re right about that, my brother in law is a Geelong supporter,detests them with a passion.

My Geelong relatives despise them with all the hatred of a woman scorned…my sister won’t even go to Hawthorn games because she hates their fans so much.

Bit like me and fark Carlton.


No doubt they were thugs and their coaches namely Kennedy and Jeans encouraged it.

However it pales when you look back to the 1960s and before when there were some of the biggest thugs ever to play the game. My Dad followed Fitzroy and took me to games, they had a ruckman named Max Miers, who I reckon had the sole job of knocking out opponents behind the play. One umpire, limited TV, no replays. I think he was reported once or twice, but every week he would hurts others. Every teem had an “enforcer”. Karma is a beech as Miers only played about 40 games, did his knee and didnt play again.

1 Like

Speaking of that era, do you remember Hawthorn’s “Delicate” Des Dickson? He was positively lethal on the cramped confines of Glenferrie Oval.

1 Like