HAWTHORN legends Dermott Brereton and Shane Crawford have lauded the efforts of three south-west footballers in the Hawks’ grand final triumph on Saturday.
Warrnambool’s Jordan Lewis and Colac pair Luke Hodge and Jonathan Simpkin earned high praise from the club champions after the 15-point win over Fremantle.
Crawford played 305 games for the Hawks between 1993 and 2008. He won the 1999 Brownlow Medal and retired after the club won the 2008 premiership.
He said the trio deserved to enter Hawthorn folklore as premiership players.
“Hodgey is a wonderful leader, Lewis is tough as nails and does whatever he’s told and Simpkin has had a big couple of weeks,” he said.
“Two premierships in two weeks, not many people can do that.
“They breed them tough down there. Very ugly, but very tough.
“It’s awesome. That’s the thing about footy, it brings everyone from all over the place together.”
Brereton played 189 games for Hawthorn before one-season stints at each of Sydney and Collingwood.
He is a five-time premiership player, all with the Hawks, and kicked 427 goals during his career.
Brereton said Simpkin and Norm Smith medallist Brian Lake, who left the Western Bulldogs at the end of last season in a bid to win a flag, were the best stories of season 2013.
“Jordan had a good first half, an awesome third quarter and kept on going,” he said.
“Hodgey was fantastic all day.
“And Jonathan Simpkin, if that ain’t the best football story of the year, it’s up there with Brian’s.
“Football, that’s all it is — seeing the opportunity, recognising it, taking the opportunity, running with it and making it a success.”
Brereton said he wanted to see Lance “Buddy” Franklin remain at the club next season, but he conceded the big-money deal Greater Western Sydney could offer the spearhead would be difficult to refuse.
“You’ve got to treat it with reality. It’s an enormous offer,” he said. “Not a sole brown-and-gold person would begrudge him from taking the cash.”
Brereton also paid tribute to “amazing” coach Alastair Clarkson, who he said was the mastermind behind the Hawks rising again, five years after their ’08 flag.
“They faltered for a couple of years but the game changed,” he said.
“The amazing thing about Alastair as a coach is he has moved on the run. He has changed coaching strategies according to the slight change in the sport in the era.”