The Kennett Curse

Graeme
By
Posted: September 6, 2015


The Kennett curse refers to a superstitious explanation for the tribulations suffered by the Hawthorn football club of the Australian Football League at the hands of Geelong between 2008 and 2013. In total Geelong beat Hawthorn for thirteen straight games during that run.

How did the Kennett Curse Start?

Hawthorn and Geelong faced each other at the 2008 AFL Grand Final, with Geelong heavily favored to win. They had only lost one game the whole season and they were the defending champions. Hawthorn however won by 26 points to claim its tenth premiership. Before the 2009 season started, then-Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett, after whom the curse is named, publicly questioned Geelong’s psychological drive to win the match. After the loss in the Grand Final, Geelong reportedly made a pact that they would never lose to Hawthorn again. These events, and particularly Kennett’s remarks are believed to be the precursors to the manifestation of the Kennett Curse.

Effects of the Kennett’s Curse

Following Kennett’s remarks, the two teams met in Round 1, 2009, with Geelong defeating Hawthorn in the first of twelve successive matches that Geelong won over their rivals. The run included a number of remarkable games. The first game during the period that the jinx was active was the Round 1 of the 2009 season. With Geelong still bitter over the loss of the 2008 premiership, the came out of the blocks all guns blazing. They booted four of the first five goals and by the opening of the third term, they were 41 points ahead. Hawthorn scored six straight goals to narrow the lead gap to eight but Geelong held on to the lead to emerge victorious. One of the most remarkable games played during the duration of the curse was in Round 12 in 2011. By this time, Hawthorn had lost five straight matches to Geelong and talk of a curse was rife. The Hawks twice came from behind, once after trailing by twenty points and again after allowing five straight goals in the second quarter but they scored four straight goals in the third quarter to open a 17-point lead. It seemed as though the curse was finally broken but the Cats scored 3.4 to 0.0 in the fourth quarter to emerge victorious by five points.

In the second qualifying final of 2011, the two teams met in what could be described as the first game that really mattered. The Hawks were in good form, having finished in the top four for the first time since 2008 and were on an eight-game streak with an average winning margin of 50 points plus, heading into this game. The hawthorns opened the game with three quick goals but they went goalless until the 30th minute of the second quarter allowing Geelong to score six goals without a reply. They went ahead again in the third quarter but they conceded five straight goals to fall behind by 31 points. The curse held on for at least one more game. In round 19, 2012, the two teams met again. The Cats were placed sixth in the league standings and the Hawks were in second place which meant that the Hawks were heavy favorites to win the game. The Hawks raced ahead by 45 points by the end of the first quarter but Hawthorn started to slowly but surely chip away at the lead and by the 25th minute they went ahead for the first time courtesy of a Brad Sewell stick splitter. Geelong’s Tom Hawkins was in impressive form and he booted the fifth goal to reduce the margin to two points and then scored a 50 meters arc with 22 seconds left. The curse would maintain its stranglehold on the Hawks for a bit longer.

In September 2013, Hawthorn finally booted the curse with a 102-97 win over Geelong in the Preliminary Finals of 2013 season. The Cats had boosted themselves to a 19-point lead by halfway through the fourth quarter but the Hawks kicked three goals and seven touchdowns to go ahead by 5 points. Kennett, who stepped aside as Hawthorn president in 2011 with his team on an 11-0 losing run against the Cats, admitted in 2013 that his comments over Geelong’s mental strength may have been disrespectful but he could not take them back. Over the entire run the Cats defeated the Hawks by an average margin of 8.6 points and the entire run lasted a little over 5 years.

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