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Dunstall or Jeans - Hawthorn's tough call

Legend material: Jason Dunstall.

Legend material: Jason Dunstall.

Hawthorn has faced tough choices in the past: Glenferrie or Waverley, an untried Alastair Clarkson or a seasoned Gary Ayres, Tasmania or Melbourne only. In grand final week 1975, the club faced the vexing decision of whether to play Peter Crimmins, its cancer-stricken skipper.

On July 12, the family club faces a less emotionally wrenching, but still difficult call between Jason Dunstall, one of the greatest goalkickers in the game's history (1254 goals), and Allan Jeans, the coach who presided over the outrageously successful team that Dunstall inhabited.

Whereas, the Hawks could draft Jarryd Roughead and still get Lance Franklin with their next early pick (thanks Tigers), they cannot elevate both Dunstall and Jeans to club ''Legend'' status on this occasion. Only one icon will get the nod.

Hawthorn's '80s players have found their club's Hall of Fame a tough club to crack. Rodney Eade, a four-time premiership player who played 229 games, hasn't made Hawthorn's hallowed hall. Nor has Peter Schwab, who played in three flags, missed a fourth due to suspension and went on to coach the Hawks. It is hard to imagine another club that couldn't find a cubby hole in its Hall of Fame for people with Eade and Schwab's resumes, but the Hawks simply had an excess of greats.

At another club, with fewer gongs, Dermott Brereton's five flags and storied finals record would be sufficient for Legendhood. Brereton is among the nine individuals eligible to become Hawthorn's seventh Legend. The first six are John Kennedy Senior, Leigh Matthews, Graham Arthur, Michael Tuck, Peter Hudson and David Parkin.

Hawthorn's Cox Plate field of contenders for the Legend consists of Brereton, Dunstall, Jeans, Ayres, Robert Dipierdomenico, Chris Langford, John Platten, Gary Buckenara and Chris Mew. Brereton, Dipper and Ayres are five flag players, yet it is hard to see them trumping Dunstall or Jeans. The legend must be someone from that 1988-89 era, as the club celebrates the 25th anniversary of its only back-to-back premiership.

Eade (Collingwood) and Schwab (Brisbane Lions) are involved with other clubs and are well placed to judge the merits of Dunstall, Jeans, Brereton et al. Eade said the late Jeans would be ''the emotional favourite'' to be elevated, but found that pair and Brereton difficult to split, while Schwab reckoned Dunstall and Jeans stood apart, but that he would confer Legend status on Jeans first.

''I'd go with Jeansy,'' said Schwab. ''He had the bigger influence.''

Jeans, of course, is a legend at St Kilda, as the club's sole premiership coach. If Dunstall is a pure Hawthorn man – who was also a significant figure in the club's resurrection under Clarkson (whom Dunstall basically appointed coach) – Schwab didn't think serving another club should be a minus. Coaching rival sides was rightly irrelevant to the stature of Parkin and Matthews, with the latter ranked as Hawthorn's greatest ever player and worthy of an MCG statue.

''It's like Clarkson,'' said Schwab. ''He will be in the Hall of Fame, if not Legend, at some stage, if he keeps going.''


 

 

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