Real estate agent Glenn Brandon was enjoying a beer-fuelled day at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 5, 2012, when he spotted a couple of familiar faces roaming the crowd.
It was the third day of the second Test between Australia and India, and as Australian captain Michael Clarke powered toward a historic 300, former prime minister Bob Hawke and wife Blanche d’Alpuget were on a tour of the ground with an SCG official.
“He was just wondering around the crowd,” recalled Mr Brandon, who lives on the New South Wales south coast.
“And we were all cheering. Everyone was in good spirits.”
Then, with a few schooners under his belt, Mr Brandon was hit with an idea.
“I was just standing there with my mates saying, ‘I should give him a beer’,” the 35-year-old recalled.
“And they were like, ‘Yeah, yeah, go on, do that.’ Luckily I had just been to the bar so I had a spare one to offer him.
“So as he came by I said, ‘Robert, Robert, one for the country.’ And he was like, ‘Oh yeah, beauty.’ I gave him the beer and I filmed it. He skolled it, and off he went. Everyone was just loving it. We just laughed for so long.”
A few days later Mr Brandon uploaded the video to YouTube to share with his mates, but it went further than that.
“The video went absolutely berserk,” Mr Brandon said, who is not traditionally a Labor voter.
“I had all these calls on my phone saying, ‘We’ve seen your video on the news’.”
It marked a return of the public larrikin for Hawke, who once broke a drinking record as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and who later admitted he “sought refuge” through alcohol as the ACTU leader.
He became teetotal when he entered parliament but returned to the grog after he left politics in 1992.
After his 2012 feat, Hawke was filmed on several occasions over the years downing a beer at the cricket, including by Channel 9 in January last year, with an accompanying commentary by Shane Warne.
His beer-swilling legacy took on a new edge in 2017 with the release of Hawke’s Lager, a beer founded by Australians Nathan Lennon and David Gibson. Lennon and Gibson were working as creative directors in a New York advertising agency when they came up with the idea.
“It was Australia Day, [and] Dave and I were chatting about who, given the chance, we’d most like to have a beer with,” Mr Lennon said.
“We both said Bob Hawke.”
When they took the idea to Hawke, the former PM said: “Well, I’d be a bum if I said no.”
Hawke also passed on his share of any profits as donations to Landcare Australia, the environmental body established under the Hawke Government.
Mr Brandon, who was sent a case of Hawke’s Lager by Mr Lennon and Mr Gibson for his role in quenching Hawke’s thirst that 2012 day, likes to think he played a small part in rebooting Hawke’s image in his later years.
“I might have helped endear him to the public again,” said Mr Brandon, who made a “couple of hundred dollars” from his viral video. And, he says, “I’ve still got the cup.”