The Great Stabiliser: Jack Gunston celebrates one of his four goals on Saturday. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
It was probably Lance's last game, Buddy's goodbye. For The Bud, or Franco as they call him, is expected even by Hawthorn to find the new market lucre too enticing when he finally decides his future this week. Anything thus could be read into the tight brotherly hugging and kissing of Josh Gibson in the euphoric Hawthorn rooms after the game. Was this the face of a man who would walk away? Or was this one last moment of joy to savour?
Only he will know. What Hawthorn knows, however, is that he can almost go now without rancour - they have their second flag with him, they can wave goodbye with less regret. Hawthorn will not stop without Franklin.
The consequence of this game was plain. Making a grand final was not success enough for a team that only lost three times in the season, winning another cup was all that mattered. In that sense the Hawks' success can be seen as having avoided ''failure''.
Once that was averted, what victory did was confirm that this is a great team (two cups in seven years for this era of players), but also further conferred upon this club greatness. This is now 10 flags in 53 years for Hawthorn. As Luke Hodge put it on the dais: ''That over there, what John Kennedy is holding, that is why we are always Hawthorn.'' Marketers will love his quote, but that is because it has a ring of truth to it.
Hawthorn thus will continue. The success makes it easier to swallow the idea of a Franklin adieu. Part of the reason is that they have long proven themselves a side above one player. The Hawks won this game kicking 11 goals - a premiership victory over a Ross Lyon team was never going to require many more - but they got only the one goal from their most dynamic forward, Franklin. They also only got two goals from Coleman Medallist Jarryd Roughead.
Hawthorn's brilliance is in their hydra attack. The best attacking team in the competition would not be rendered silent by their two key forwards lack of impact (on the scoreboard at least, for both players performed roles without taking the game by the scruff). Jack Gunston, a man with wounds of his own from the inaccuracy in last year's loss to Sydney, was in their stead the man to boot four goals.
''We set ourselves this year to make amends for last year and it was worth it,'' Gunston said. ''It was really blustery and you saw with Fremantle shots on goal early you had to kick through it and kick straight. It's good to share the load up forward and lucky I got on the end of them.''
Gunston booted the first of the game, when found by Bradley Hill after a Grant Birchall mark at half-forward and sliding kick to Paul Puopolo. He ran into 50 for his second when the Hawks created a turnover while again he out-manoeuvred Zac Dawson in the goal square one out for his third goal. When Fremantle closed in the third quarter to three points and looked to surge over the top of the Hawks, it was Gunston in the goal square one out who worked the ball to ground, kept his feet and squeezed a goal.
It was this last goal that satisfied Gunston most. ''The one in the third quarter, the little dribble around the goal line, they had the run on and they were getting a few goals and we needed to halt their flow. Roughy kicked one and I did, so it was pretty good,'' Gunston said.
''To go through what we went through last year - no one wants to lose a grand final, we know the position Fremantle are in now - but to come out and have the resilience we did all year to only lose three games is full credit to the boys. It makes today worth it.''
The pain of loss not only made victory more joyful, but it seems also slightly easier to achieve.
''It helps being there last year. Looking around the group there wasn't the tension, there wasn't the nerves, we knew what we wanted to do, we were on a mission, so it was great to get the result,'' he said.
''We just didn't want to go through what we went through last year and you saw that in the last quarter against Geelong last week: the boys didn't want to lose, we wanted to get here and make amends for last year and that is what we have done.''
Ray Gunston, Jack's dad, this year became chief executive of Essendon, helping them try to find a way through the troubles that have beset their club. He offered a calm hand and poise. On grand final day as the contest disappeared in bucolic congestion and gusty uncertainty it was Jack who likewise provided a figure of maturity and composure.
''When the heat was on, he did really well, which was pleasing,'' Ray said, acknowledging that after the year Essendon had had the joy in the rooms watching his son was a nice reminder of the pleasure the game also brings. ''Absolutely, it makes it all worthwhile, it is great,'' he said.
When Fremantle had managed only a goal to half-time that victory already looked assured. It was less so at three-quarter-time. When the Dockers came at Hawthorn it was not the heralded names, or only some heralded names, who found the way to drop anchor and hold the Dockers up. It was Gunston, Luke Bruest, Isaac Smith and Puopolo.
Smith's goal at the start of the last quarter showed a strength of confidence to take the kick from such a long way out as it did strength of leg to kick the goal. Bruest's moment to lift the ball from the palm of Aaron Sandilands and find space and snap across his body was Nick Davis-like in its blend of clever execution and exquisite timing.
''I had seen Sandilands hit two straight down Nate Fyfe's throat at the last two forward-50 stoppages and I thought that if I get into that area it is not going to give Fyfe a free shot at it and an easy out for them. Luckily for me I was on the move and had good enough hands to take it and my defender was not on me and I got the goal,'' Bruest said.
''It was one of the better feelings I have had on a footy ground. I knew it wasn't over; Freo were still coming pretty hard. But I knew it was a pretty important moment. Isaac kicked that great goal and to kick another it did feel like it could be a big moment but at the same time it is so hard in grand finals, you know they are going to keep coming. It probably wasn't until we were three goals up and there was a minute to go I thought, it is ours.''