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Moving tribute by Hawks, Pies

Ben Guthrie  July 4, 2015 9:04 AM

AFL 2015 Rd 14 - Collingwood v Hawthorn

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 3: Collingwood and Hawthorn players link arm in arm in memory of the death of Adelaide Crows Coach Phil Walsh during the 2015 AFL round 14 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Hawthorn Hawks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on July 3, 2015. (Photo by Justine Walker/AFL Media)

Collingwood and Hawthorn players have taken their lead from Adelaide's 2015 slogan 'We Fly As One', forming a circle in the middle of the MCG in a moving unified post-match tribute to late Crows coach Phil Walsh.

Coaches Alastair Clarkson and Nathan Buckley instigated the tribute, and, along with captains Luke Hodge and Scott Pendlebury, organised the formation of the circle at the conclusion of Friday night's game.

"We just said to them (Pendlebury and Hodge), win lose or draw let's get together and try to show, that despite the fact we'd been fierce warriors who had played against each other for the previous three hours, we come together as one and acknowledge Phil," Clarkson said.

The significance of arranging Hawthorn players next to Collingwood players was made to emphasise the unity of the AFL community, according to Clarkson.

"Most of it was organisational stuff – we wanted to make sure it was Hawthorn, Collingwood, Hawthorn, Collingwood in the circle to have that camaraderie and genuine togetherness of the two clubs," Clarkson said.

"We were the ones that were going to be the spectacle where the whole footy community could see that we were going to unite as one and support the Walsh family and the Adelaide footy club in very trying circumstances."

Clarkson said it was imperative the whole football world provided strength and support to those at the Crows.

"We're going to mourn together and support the family and the Adelaide footy club as much as we can over the next few days, because it's going to be really tough for the Adelaide players in particular," Clarkson said.

Buckley also provided an insight into the tribute.

"I think the significance of that gesture was to say that it doesn't matter who you follow, who you play for, we're all people, human in our own right, and when we lose someone before their time we need to acknowledge that," Buckley said.

"We're flesh and blood. We bleed, we hurt, we laugh, we cry and try and look after each other as much as we can and only people in footy clubs can really understand how that feels."

Clarkson, who returned to 30 missed calls on his mobile phone after going for a morning run, said Friday was an unprecedented time for he and his football club.

The Hawks were unsure whether the match was going to go ahead until lunchtime, while the club also had to deal with the news star forward Jarryd Roughead had surgery to remove a melanoma on his lip during the week.

"Together with the Roughy stuff that our players had to deal with over the course of the week, to get a win in those circumstances, we're enormously proud of how we handled the week," Clarkson said.

Clarkson had a personal connection to Walsh, as they were both part of Port Adelaide's 2004 premiership victory.

The Hawks coach said he felt for the Crows, especially after the club grieved the loss of assistant coach Dean Bailey, who died of cancer last year.

"It's so sad that the Adelaide footy club have had to deal with this twice in the last 18 months," Clarkson said.

"Two really, really great mates are somewhere up there together now."