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Zagreb Hawks finally break through for maiden Croatian premiership

  • Friday, October 11 2013 @ 05:46 am ACDT
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The Zagreb Hawks have this year won the Croatian league for the first time since their foundation in 2006.

The 9-a-side league, featuring 3 Croatian clubs and the Downunder Dogs from Graz, Austria, has seen the Zagreb Hawks come runners-up on a number of occasions, but never clinch the big prize.

After reaching the low point of their history in 2012, struggling to field a full side and losing to the Velika Gorica Bombers (now the Dockers), Zaprude Giants and Downunder Dogs, this year was completely something different.

From October 2012, the Hawks undertook a rebuilding program and have since grown the largest playing numbers in the league. This included trading Milijan Mamić to the Dockers in return for Tomislav Cvetko - Knights captain and European Championship 2013 top scorer - and unearthing some young guns such as Josip Habljak, selected in the ruck for the All-European team from the 2013 European Championships.

During the season, the Zagreb Hawks lost only one game, their season opener against the Giants. Their final game on October 5th saw them dominate the Styrian Downunder Dogs.

Best and fairest and leading goalkicker for 2013 was Tomislav Cvetko, with Josip Habljak taking Best Rookie honours.

The Hawks will also attend this week's Croatian Cup charity event, which will close the Croatian footy calendar for 2013.

Coach Josip Kravar from the Hawks said "Good atmosphere in the club, and our dedication on and off the field were recognized and rewarded in the same year when our brother club Hawthorn won the AFL premiership. This year was good for Hawks, and here in Croatia, the Zagreb Hawks will try to make it the standard."

"A big thanks to our brother club Hawthorn Hawks, especially Mr. Ian Dicker who unselfishly helped us so many times. Finally, the cup is ours."

Zagreb Hawks premiership players: Luka Punda, Tomislav Marsic, Frane Boban, Luka Diklic, Josip Kravar, Jan Dolezal, Josip Habljak, Jure Prtenjaca, Dejan Pavkovic, Tomislav Cvetko, Josip Josipovic (c), Dinko Irsag, Marin Kolanovic, Branko Ban, Luka Dukic, Goran Pereš, Matija Bašić, Kruno Cvitaš

Coach: Josip Kravar

For more on the Zagreb Hawks and footy in Croatia, visit the league website, the Hawks' blog or their Facebook page.