60 years on, the ’57 team meet again

On Saturday, August 31, 1957, in front of 69,455 footy fans at the MCG, Hawthorn made the Finals or the first time.

The front-page headline on The Sun newspaper said it all - 1st TIME FOR HAWKS. After a 32 year wait, Hawthorn fans saw their team play in a VFL final.

This important milestone in the Club’s history is possibly best remembered for the massive hailstorm, which left the ground a sheet of white and had the competing captains, John Kennedy Snr and Ken Hands, standing at the top of their adjoining races inviting each other to lead their respective teams back out first. The Umpires were already out on the ground, getting drenched. The storm made the 29-point lead that the Hawks enjoyed at half time virtually impossible for Carlton to make up.

The Hawks had gone into the game as favourites and given the weather conditions, wisely wore long sleeves as opposed to many of the Carlton players in sleeveless guernseys.

Hawthorn attacked from the start, with Graham Arthur scoring the Hawks’ first goal in a final. Ron Cabble added another, followed with two from Roy Simmonds and another by Graham Arthur, whilst managing to keep Carlton goalless with very determined defence led by Don Gent. The Hawks were 31 points up at quarter time and increased their lead to 32 at the half time break. The teams nullified one another in the third quarter due to the very slippery conditions of the ground, making their footing hard to keep. Carlton got within 17 points in the final term before Brian Falconer sealed the game with a final goal. According to press reports, Falconer kissed the football after taking the mark, then goaled.

The Hawks had created history, winning their first finals appearance by 23 points, 10.11.71 to Carlton, 6.12.48. Brendan Edwards was named best on ground and was ably backed by Graham Arthur, Brian Falconer, Norm Maginness, Maurie Young, John Kennedy, Alf Hughes and Ron Cabble. The goal-kickers, Ron Cabble 3, Graham Arthur 2, Maurie Young 2, Roy Simmons 2, Brian Falconer 1

The ’57 team 60 years on – Ian Pearson, Ron Cabble, Allan Woodley, Brian Falconer, John Kennedy Snr (captain), Max Jose, Norm Maginness, Dave Ritchie, Noel Voigt, Bill Shelton, Maurie Considine and Geoff Dupey

60 years later, on July 11, 2017, 13 members of the ’57 team gathered in the Hawks Museum. These team members were Ron Cabble, Maurie Considine, Brian Falconer, John Kennedy Snr, John O’Mahony, Ian Pearson, Norm Maginness, Dave Ritchie, Noel Voigt, Allan Woodley, Bill Shelton, Geoff Dupey, Max Jose, and their partners and guests. They were overjoyed to be joined by the widows of two deceased teammates, Lesley Simmons and Pam Yeoman.

The buzz of conversation between the long-time teammates became louder and louder as happy voices were heard reminiscing about games, goals, opponents, grandchildren and, particularly, the social events held in the gym after the games played at Glenferrie,

The ’57 team members were spell bound when they entered the player’s training facilities, to see how big it is and the wide variety of training equipment. Their conversations compared their training nights in the smaller confines at Glenferrie to what the now full-time players of 2017 had at their disposal.

Moving onto Level 2 to view the coaches’ offices, they entered the War Room where the current coaching panel selects the team. They were astounded to see the large round table, complete with computer screens for each selector and were impressed with how the players below could been seen doing their various training drills.

This was where the fun started for the onlookers, John Kennedy beckoned to his fellow teammates to take a seat around the selection table - he was about to reselect the team for 1957. Kennedy, with that now famous voice, extolled the virtues of each of his fellow teammates and what he expected from them when they met Carlton in the first final. Their comradery was impressive as his teammates offered their expectations of him as the captain.

The ’57 entourage then moved to the Corporate Suite, where they were officially welcomed to the Club by the new CEO, Tracey Gaudry, who congratulated them for their efforts of 1957. Current Board member and former player from the 1971 Premiership, Bruce Stevenson, spoke of his memories as a seven-year-old, watching the First Semi Final in 1957. He remembered how funny it was to see the players slipping and sliding all over the ground after the now famous hailstorm at half time. Bruce also recalled his father’s service to Hawthorn as one of the Trainers during the 1950s who knew the ’57 lads well.

The Ladies behind the ’57 Team

The General Manager of Football, Jason Burt, spoke next, showing a short motivational film that Coach Alastair Clarkson had prepared for new recruits, featuring the Hawks’ continued success that began in 1957. Needless to mention, that the ’57 team members present were impressed to see their efforts recognized in this film.

The ’57 players then assembled for a team photo, followed by a second team photo of their partners, much to their joy and satisfaction, with lots of giggles and banter as the cameras clicked away.

After refreshments, the ’57 team gathered in the corridor where the official Premiership Photos are displayed and further photographs were taken in front of their 1957 team photo that leads this imposing acknowledgement of Club achievement. Brian Falconer was heard to say with pride, that to the best of his knowledge, ‘Hawthorn is the only club that officially recognizes the first team to make a final’.

Noel Voigt, Ian Pearson and Allan Woodley with the Club’s official 1957 team photo

Author: Peter Haby, Hawks Museum

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