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Hawks haunted by grand Swan

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Martin Blake

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Can Sydney cause an upset at the MCG?

Our footy experts analyse the weekend's AFL games and look ahead to Saturday's grand final between Sydney and Hawthorn.

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IN THE bowels of the Sydney Olympic stadium late last Friday night, a virtually anonymous former AFL player stood outside the raucous Sydney Swans dressing rooms and waited for his son to emerge, chuffed that he had qualified for his first grand final.

John Kennedy jnr is a four-time premiership player with Hawthorn and the son of Hawks father figure and legend John snr, but his loyalties were clear on this night.

His son Josh, of course, plays with the Swans, somewhat painfully so for the Hawthorn faithful after the 2009 trade in which three draft selections fell Hawthorn's way in return for Kennedy and Hawk forward Ben McGlynn. Tonight, barnstorming Kennedy is perceived as having some chance to win a Brownlow Medal, Australian football's most famous individual honour. Next Saturday, he presents arguably the biggest single threat to Hawthorn's quest for an 11th premiership.

Family affair: Josh Kennedy with his grandfather John Kennedy snr and father, John Kennedy jnr, in 2006.

Family affair: Josh Kennedy with his grandfather John Kennedy snr and father, John Kennedy jnr, in 2006. Photo: Getty Images

Such is the way of the modern game. Not even the fact he was the grandson of the definitive club legend, a man whose statue peers out over the club's headquarters at Waverley, changed Hawthorn's thinking at the time that it had too many of the same type of player.

Kennedy snr told AFL.com.au last night he could not wait for the game. ''As they say at every civil function, may the better team win.''

Asked who he was barracking for, or even who he'd be tipping for the season-ender, the 83-year-old avoided a direct answer. ''I don't barrack, I just explode,'' he joked. He then conceded: ''I'll be happy if Hawthorn win.''

But the Hawks' first premiership coach couldn't be more content. ''I'm happy all round, a very happy fella,'' Kennedy snr said.

He said he has no regrets about his grandson leaving Hawthorn, saying he has no right to interfere. ''That's his business. I'm happy that he's playing well and that he's keeping his head on his shoulders.

''I think that football's a game where everyone puts in for the team, and Josh has done that. He's been a team-oriented player.''

Josh, 24, will not be at the Brownlow Medal count at Crown; the Sydney players will remain in Sydney at a hastily organised club function tonight, to watch it on TV.

It is the grand final that is at the forefront of their minds, and the same goes for Hawthorn, whose players gathered at Waverley for a recovery session and media commitments yesterday.

''They've got some hard players, especially 'Joey' Kennedy,''

said Cyril Rioli, Hawthorn's dynamic forward, who represents a problem for Sydney.

Rioli said he expected some banter between Kennedy and his former teammates.

''There's a few guys here who are pretty close to Joey. I'm sure they'll talk, but it won't be too much.''

As much as Hawthorn squirms each time Kennedy manages a personal triumph, it can argue that movement between clubs is commonplace.

One of its own stars, Luke Breust, was a rookie-listed player with Sydney and part of the Swans' premiership in the reserves in 2007. Like Kennedy, he was the one who got away.

''I don't think I was ready back then,'' said Breust, who grew up in the New South Wales Riverina.

''I was probably good enough for that second-tier competition that I played in for Sydney. Even the first two years at Hawthorn, I was still very light. I got to the club at 70 kilos.

''I'm playing at 80 kilos now. It's a fair difference.''

Grand final week begins today with the usual scramble for tickets and the Brownlow count.

At Hawthorn yesterday there was no sign of Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge, who withdrew from the preliminary final against Adelaide, the club saying he had gastro.

Already there has been wild speculation as to whether he has another injury.

Hodge is expected back at the club today.

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GCF 114 vs BRI 61 Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 83 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
STK 79 vs BRI 82 Report Stats
FRE 61 vs NTH 74 Report Stats
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CAR 92 vs WCE 89 Report Stats
MEL 38 vs SYD 69 Report Stats
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WBU 83 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
RIC 52 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 70 vs COL 104 Report Stats
Sat, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 175 vs STK 30 Report Stats
GWS 97 vs PTA 132 Report Stats
ADE 67 vs MEL 70 Report Stats
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GEE 81 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 107 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
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WCE 188 vs GWS 77 Report Stats
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Round 9
Thu, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 76 vs COL 55 Report Stats
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ESS 64 vs SYD 114 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 111 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
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Round 11
Thu, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
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STK 54 vs COL 140 Report Stats
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BRI 98 vs CAR 91 Report Stats
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HAW 94 vs GWS 87 Report Stats
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GEE 107 vs CAR 102 Report Stats
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HAW 123 vs WCE 79 Report Stats
PTA 129 vs STK 59 Report Stats
WBU 87 vs BRI 95 Report Stats
GWS 66 vs ESS 81 Report Stats
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FRE 90 vs ADE 50 Report Stats
NTH 116 vs RIC 88 Report Stats
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Round 13
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Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 108 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
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RIC 79 vs BRI 54 Stats
GWS 72 vs ADE 140 Report Stats
GCF 80 vs COL 75 Report Stats
MEL 34 vs FRE 97 Report Stats
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GWS 87 vs GEE 94 Report Stats
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WBU 94 vs ESS 101 Report Stats
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Round 21
Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
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Round 22
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Round 23
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Hawthorn 22 17 5 0 140.78 68
Geelong Cats 22 17 5 0 113.77 68
Fremantle 22 16 6 0 130.40 64
Port Adelaide 22 14 8 0 129.92 56
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