28 September 2014
Hawthorn Football Club
PO Box 829
Mt Waverley VIC 3149
Attention: Andrew Newbold – President
Stuart Fox – Chief Executive Officer
Rebecca McCue – Membership Operations & Servicing Manager
Dear Andrew, Stuart & Rebecca,
I write to the Hawthorn Football Club executive in light of a magnificent 2014 grand final win, on a matter that continues to plague this game and Australian society.
As an avid football watcher of a similar age to Adam Goodes, I vividly recall his debut season in 1999 and how he lead the way in the multi-positional, tall midfield/key position personified by Anthony Koutoufides earlier in the 1990s. His multiple Brownlow medals, All-Australian jumpers, best & fairests and premierships should guarantee Goodes automatic entry into the AFL Hall of Fame.
During this time I have also watched Adam Goodes, along with other indigenous and non-indigenous players such as Shaun Burgoyne, Bob Murphy and Bachar Houli demonstrate remarkable courage, poise, eloquence and leadership in fighting and addressing systemic racial discrimination both on and off the field.
As such, it saddens me as an 18 year Hawthorn member, but more importantly as a regular citizen, to hear both at yesterday’s Grand Final and at recent Hawthorn-Sydney encounters, the booing of Goodes with racist tones.
As football supporters we tend to identify at least one opposition player as our “pantomime villain” – often the player who we’d most like on our team. The creation of Goodes as such the villain, as I witnessed with the West Coast Eagles’ Chris Lewis in the early to mid 1990s, is one based to a degree on their enviable skill but more so due to their race. This continues to be an indictment on our indigenous game that indigenous players are heckled at games with distinct racist terms.
Apropos of the Lewis example, it was pleasing but still disturbing to see Dermott Brereton recently admit to, and apologise in person for racially abusing Lewis in the 1991 Grand Final in order to gain a psychological advantage. By the early 2000s I was encouraged to see the progress Hawthorn FC made in engaging with its indigenous players’ communities and understanding their cultures.
In 2014, for Hawthorn FC to become the on and off-field “juggernaut” that was spoken of today, it also comes with a wider social and moral responsibility. I am a passionate and paid-up supporter – it would make me proud to be #AlwaysHawthorn to see the executive make a strong innovative statement to all its members and supporters that racial abuse and jeering of opposition players will not be tolerated.