Hawthorn unfurls flag in thanks to Tasmania

HAWTHORN yesterday said "thanks" to its Tasmanian family, as it unfurled its 2013 premiership flag before beginning the defence of that title at Launceston's Aurora Stadium.

The Hawks were too good for Brisbane, winning by 48 points, 21.13 (139) to 13.13 (91) - their eighth win in a row at the ground.

The game was played in front of a lower than expected crowd of 12,430, but those who did turn up witnessed plenty of firsts in the twilight encounter.

On-field firsts such as debut games for Tim O'Brien and Derick Wanganeen (Hawthorn) and James Aish, Michael Close and Lewis Taylor (Brisbane).

In the words of president Andrew Newbold, it was an opportunity for the club to thanks its Tasmanian supporters for their being there for their team as it went on to win its 11th premiership.

Ruckmen Ben McEvoy (ex-St Kilda, now a Hawk) and Trent West (a former Cat who is now a Lion) played their first games for their new clubs, while Brisbane boss Justin Leppitsch had his first outing as a senior coach.

It was also the first home and away match for the brown and gold without the services of Lance Franklin.

But there was the one major off-field first that stole the show.

The first time that an AFL premiership flag had an official unveiling in Tasmania.

After about 300 Hawks supporters got a glimpse of the pennant the Hawks received for their 15-point win over Fremantle on the last Saturday last September in the Hawk Walk, the ceremony moved to Aurora.

With champion centre- half-back Peter Knights introducing him, suspended Norm Smith medallist Brian Lake then unfurled the flag for all to see.

It was a ceremony that took place in front of the 22 men who were about to go into battle (a reminder of what hard work can bring).

In the words of president Andrew Newbold, it was an opportunity for the club to thanks its Tasmanian supporters for their being there for their team as it went on to win its 11th premiership.

Then on the back of one of the sponsor's utes, Lake, with the help of the Brook family from Montrose in the state's South (who have a combined 68 years membership with the club), took the flag on its slow way around the ground.

It was a procession slow enough to allow several renditions of "We're a Happy Team at Hawthorn" - not that the faithful would have minded, with the crowd at the time not that far away from the final figure for the evening.

As Lake and the Brook family (dad David, mum Karen, and their children Ryan, Amy and Matthew) went around the stadium, those in the stands rose to their feet and applauded, before the flag departed and, for the Hawks, season 2014 officially began.

While this was a simple ceremony, it was a point of difference to a traditional "raising the flag up a pole" offering and allowed footy purists to see the iconic reward for premiership success up close.

After Hawthorn had earlier brought the premiership cup to the state, the flag also allowed it "to complete the set" when it came to celebrating with the people of the state that adorns its jumper.

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