The truth about Hawthorn and Essendon's infamous 'line in the sand' brawl finally revealed

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The truth about Hawthorn and Essendon’s infamous ‘line in the sand’ brawl finally revealed as coach explains how he lit the fuse that led to all-in blue

  • Hawthorn and Essendon have had a long running AFL rivalry
  • The two rivals most memorable match was in 2004 when a wild brawl erupted
  • The ‘Line in the Sand’ match saw 16 players suspended and $70,000 in fines
  • Former Hawthorn coach  Peter Schwab has now admitted his role in the brawl
  • Former Hawthorn coach Peter Schwab has opened up on his role in the wild brawl between the the Hawks and Essendon in 2004.

    That infamous match has been dubbed the ‘Line In The Sand’ clash in the years since, largely because it was the moment Hawthorn decided they were sick up of being beaten up by their rivals.

    The AFL handed out $70,700 in melee fines and 16 suspensions as well as 26 charges against 18 players. Hawthorn midfielder Richie Vandenberg was suspended for six weeks and the brawl would end up being the final straw as  Schwab was ultimately sacked.

    The wild brawl resulted in plenty of suspensions and fines while Hawthorn coach Peter Schwab would ultimately lose his job.

    The wild brawl resulted in plenty of suspensions and fines while Hawthorn coach Peter Schwab would ultimately lose his job. 

    The powder had already been lit in the match when Essendon’s Mark Johnson threw Hawthorn’s Robbie Campbell to the ground and slammed his head into the turf. 

    That was just before halftime and the halftime address from Schwab poured the fuel on the fire that would ultimately erupt into the all-in brawl,’ Schwab said on the Herald Sun podcast.

    I am not dodging it because I don’t do that, but when they came back I just fired them up further.

    ‘I said, ‘I am sick of us getting punched up by this mob, and just accepting it’.

    ‘I said, ‘What happened to Robbie before halftime was unacceptable’

    ‘I said, ‘If something like that happens again at the start of the next quarter, I want retribution’.

    ‘I didn’t say what sort of retribution. So I didn’t expect Richie Vandenberg to go ballistic

    The brawl didn’t help the Hawks who went on to lose the match by 74 points, the ninth consecutive loss against Essendon. But at least they had stood up for themselves.

    Essendon and Hawthorn players during an all in melee in the round eleven AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Essendon Bombers in 2004

    Essendon and Hawthorn players during an all in melee in the round eleven AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Essendon Bombers in 2004

    ‘We didn’t improve the scoreboard but I suppose in some ways, at least they stood up for themselves. I wouldn’t advocate violence, which everyone was filthy on me for,’ Schwab said.

    ‘I just thought, ‘Wow, what’s this?’ No, I didn’t think it was good. I just thought I didn’t have any way to control it.

    ‘I know (Essendon assistant) Robert Shaw gave me a real (verbal) pasting as we came back up to the box (at three quarter time). Shawry is pretty feisty. You know what Shawry is like.

    ‘It’s always Essendon, isn’t it? Essendon v Hawthorn, They are two great clubs. People say do you hate Essendon and I say only in a competitive way.

    ‘There is clear respect for them as a footy club and it sounds strange coming from someone from Hawthorn.

    ‘Well it depends who you talk to. People like (club legend) Don Scott thought it was about time, but it wasn’t a good look and I never advocate the violence that happened that day. It wasn’t good.’

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