AFL coaching legend David Parkin has one request for his old club Hawthorn in Saturday’s preliminary final against Adelaide at the MCG – kick straight.
Goalkicking inaccuracy is a common theme through the great finals upsets in the modern game.
The Hawks are minor premiers and will start the twilight match as strong favourites, but Parkin warned that they are as vulnerable as anyone if they fail to make the most of their opportunities.
“That’s something you have no control over and we so often see it in the beginning of games when teams dominate the initial thrust in play and then don’t punish the other side on the scoreboard,” said Parkin, a four-time premiership coach.
“You don’t get through to preliminary finals and grand finals without being a good team – you don’t control the game for the whole day.
“When it is your turn and you are in control of the game, if you don’t score, diabolical trouble.”
Geelong kicked 11.23 to 18.7 when Hawthorn upset them in the 2008 grand final, while North Melbourne could only manage 6.15 to halftime in the 1998 grand final against the Crows.
The Kangaroos were also big favourites for that match, but lost 8.22 to 15.15.
And then there is the 1999 preliminary final, one of the greatest games in AFL history.
Carlton were given no chance to down the Bombers and after bravely leading at halftime, were down by 11 points at the last change.
But they rallied and beat their fierce rivals by one point.
The final scores? Carlton 16.8 (104), Essendon 14.19 (103).
Parkin was Carlton’s senior coach on that memorable day, although his assistant Wayne Brittain was in charge of the side for the match.
“It was the one that got away – sometimes you just don’t finish it off,” Parkin said of the Bombers.
Parkin’s abiding memory from that match also underscores the point that an individual moment can have a huge impact on a game.
In the third term, Blues legend Craig Bradley made a tactical mistake that resulted in an Essendon goal.
Opponent Gary Moorcroft let him know about it and none of Bradley’s team-mates came in to offer support.
At the three-quarter time huddle, Bradley’s great friend and fellow Carlton great Stephen Silvagni stepped up.
“Silvagni, who was probably Braddles’ closest mate, reacted quite vigorously, violently and in a very – what’s the word – emotional sort of plea to his mates,” Parkin said.
“Silvagni gave one of the most inspirational two-minute addresses I’ve ever heard.
“Four or five of the players, who’d been pretty ordinary contributors up to that point, all found something and played according to their ability.
“We played out of our pants in the last quarter.”
Another lesson is that an individual can exert a huge influence over a match.
Parkin still marvels at the performance of Carlton utility Anthony Koutoufides in that game.
Koutoufides dominated around the ground with 29 disposals, 12 marks and two goals.
If Adelaide beat Hawthorn, it would be an even bigger upset that Carlton’s incredible win over Essendon 13 years ago.
Parkin likes Hawthorn’s chances, provided they finish off their chances.
“They’re vulnerable if they don’t complete the job – just the very thing we’ve been talking about,” he said.
“They have some fabulous players, they’ll create enough opportunities.
“But if you don’t convert, you’ll always leave yourself in jeopardy.”