Four more players to receive the Debut Tie

912 players have now worn the Brown and Gold at senior level. Four players, Ricky Henderson (909), Tom Mitchell (910), Jaeger O’Meare (911) and Ty Vickery (912) made their debuts in Round 1 against Essendon. They are now eligible to receive Hawthorn’s Debut Order Tie.

The idea for a Debut Tie was first mooted by the then Player Welfare and Development Manager, Simon Lloyd in 2001. He believed it would help develop a stronger bond and inspire new recruits to be part of the ever-growing team list of Hawks.

Lloyd was impressed with the success that Cricket Australia had in creating a stronger feeling of team when they introduced the idea of numbering players in order of their appearance in the Australian Test team. Time has shown that the current crop of cricketers representing Australia cherish their debut order number embroidered on their cap, the baggy green.

In an effort to further develop the Club’s culture, Lloyd sought out the Club Historian for a list of players in debut order from 1925 when Hawthorn joined the VFL. It was established that 816 players had played at least one senior VFL/AFL game by the end of season 2002.

The Debut Tie initiative occurred at the same time that Hawthorn was on the threshold of introducing its Hall of Fame. The decision was made that the Debut Tie would be presented at the inaugural Hall of Fame function to each of the past players who could attend, including the present playing group.

On March 13, 2003, an event called ‘The Greatest Gathering’ was held at the Melbourne Park Function Centre. On this prestigious occasion, John Kennedy Snr and Leigh Matthews were named Club Legends with former players Graham Arthur, Peter Hudson, Peter Knights, Albert Mills, Kelvin Moore, David Parkin, Don Scott and Michael Tuck, former coach Allan Jeans and former presidents Dr Ferguson, Dr Jona and Phil Ryan named as Inductees in the newly created HFC Hall of Fame. In attendance were 217 former and present day players who were presented with their individually numbered Debut Ties. They were visibly rapt to receive this recognition from their Club.

From this night, the on-going search for the Missing Hawks began. In reality the Club had lost contact with 599 former players, many now deceased. Over the next 14 years, the Hawks Museum searched high and low for family members of the Missing Hawks.

When a family of a Missing Hawk was found, in most cases, they were surprised and very grateful to receive such a gift - the Debut Tie from Hawthorn for either their father, grandfather or uncle for playing at least one senior game. This search has also seen the Club Collection enhanced with a number of the ‘found’ families of former players generously donating photos and trophies. Many of the families of deceased former players have had the Debut Tie framed along with photos, both individual and team, plus the stats of the player in question. In appreciation, the families have then sent in photos of the framed Debut Ties to be included in the player files kept in the Hawks Museum.

In the last couple of years, it has become increasing difficult to find more Missing Hawks. The 2016 publication of the Hawks Museum’s Annual Report listed 27 Missing Hawks still to be found. This was when one of our ‘Friends of the Hawks Museum’ offered his services. Glenn Butterworth, recently retired and a former member of the volunteer group, WASH (We All Support Hawthorn), is a very keen researcher into genealogy with many contacts in that field. In the space of eight weeks, Glenn has found the families of eight Missing Hawks, reducing the list to 19. It is an effort greatly appreciated by the Hawks Museum. Glenn joins the valued group of off-site volunteers who assist with many of our historical projects.

Glenn has found the families of Tom Barwick Debut Order 77, Ralph Duff Debut Order 204, Les Meade Debut Order 114, Jack Mitchell Debut Order 214, Reg Naylor Debut Order 65, Demott O’Brien Debut Order 92, Stan Petrie Debut Order 92 and Harry Townley Debut Order 59.

It is always pleasing to see former players wearing their Debut Ties when attending such events as the Club Champion, President’s Lunches on game day, or various Past Player Reunions. Invariably you will see these former players inspecting and talking about one another’s Debut Ties. These interactions epitomize the common bond that exists with those who have represented the mighty Hawks and how proud they are to have an official Club Tie that shows to all that they are still a Hawk at heart.

To learn more about the Hawks Museum and the Missing Hawks, or to check our list of players for whom we need a photo, you can log onto the Hawks History page and click on the link to the Missing Hawks.

Author: Peter Haby - Hawks Museum

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