15,500 say Hawks have our heart and soul

READ THE ORIGINAL STORY ON PROFESSOR WEST'S REPORT HERE 

Hawthorn's Luke Hodge presents a ball to two-year-old Willow McVeigh, the son of David and Claire, of Ballarat.

Hawthorn's Luke Hodge presents a ball to two-year-old Willow McVeigh, the son of David and Claire, of Ballarat.

NONSENSE.

That's the word Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold used yesterday when responding to a report in Melbourne's The Age newspaper that suggested his club's venture into Tasmania had been a failure.

Director of the Australian Innovation Research Centre Professor Jonathan West's AFL- backed report into the future of the game in Tasmania questioned Hawthorn's commitment to the state, saying the club had failed to "capture the heart and soul" of Tasmanians.

He said while the club had taken Launceston under its wing, the rest of the state had missed out, using this line of thinking to help strengthen the argument that there should be one team based in the state.

The report does state that Hawthorn should have first opportunity to be that team, which would mean it would have to commit to six games in Launceston and Hobart, a scenario that Mr Newbold said was unlikely unless the AFL fixture was expanded.

That story was published on the same day that 15,503 people watched the brown and gold dismantle West Coast by 44 points, which some may see as evidence that failure is not a word to describe the relationship.

Mr Newbold said Professor West had focused too much on facts and figures than the true meaning of "heart and soul" when it came to football, and it had ignored Hawthorn's work in the Tasmanian community.

He called it an ignorant point of view, one that did not truly appreciate the relationship between the club and the state.

"Just a few things that prove my point, we've just broken through our Tasmanian membership record with support in this state at an all-time high," Mr Newbold said.

"This year we embarked on our biggest community camp in our history in Tasmania with our entire playing list visiting 25 towns across the state and more than 50 charities, schools and sporting clubs and organisations.

"Someone better go and tell those 25 towns that Hawthorn has failed."

Mr Newbold also used the Tassie in Hawks schools program and the fact the club was supporting Perth eight-year-old Jett Hill, whose father died recently, by making him their number one fan for the round 14 match against Collingwood at the MCG as examples of its community support.

"It [the article and the report] showed a real lack of understanding of our relationship with Tasmania," he said.

"I think is is nonsense when you do run through all the things we've done here, including Jett, as we've connected with him and changed his life.

"Those are the sort of things that money can't buy and we pride ourselves with that sort of involvement.

"We're all for more AFL in Tasmania and with North Melbourne in Hobart we're supportive of that and we've also said openly if Tasmania were to get its own side, it's no longer appropriate for us to be here.

"At the moment I would think us playing four games is a good result."

Premier Will Hodgman used his first AFL game since taking office to reiterate his government's commitment to its current relationship with the Hawks.

"All Tasmanians dream that we might one day have our own team, but the AFL has suggested though that won't be for another decade," Mr Hodgman said.

"We've had a very important relationship with the Hawthorn Football Club, which has been nothing short of a success and something we look forward to continuing."

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