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It's official, Jason Dunstall's a true Hawks legend

Jason Dunstall loved the chase, the tackle and the assist every bit as much as a goal.

Jason Dunstall loved the chase, the tackle and the assist every bit as much as a goal. Photo: Getty Images

When it came to the business of playing for a successful club in its greatest era, Jason Dunstall's timing couldn't have been better.

The champion Hawthorn full-forward's first season in league football saw him part of a grand final team. By the time his playing career finished he'd played in five, for four premierships, missing another only through injury, being part of September action just as habitual as pre-season training.

Perversely, however, in terms of recognition as one of the all-time greats of the game, perhaps Dunstall's timing couldn't have been worse.

Not only was he surrounded by a roll call of talent at Glenferrie long enough to have any kudos thoroughly rationed, but there were contemporaries in the goal square at rival clubs the stature of Tony Lockett and Gary Ablett senior.

The former, one of the most physically imposing figures to have played league football, ended up as holder of the game's goalkicking record. The latter, a man with the capacity to perform wizardry of the sort unmatched anywhere, is still regarded by many as the greatest player of all time.

Yet Dunstall's more orthodox methods remained stunningly effective in their own right. His career tally of 1254 goals is third behind only Lockett and Collingwood legend Gordon Coventry.

He finished with three Coleman Medals and passed the 100 mark on no fewer than six occasions. He won four Hawthorn best and fairests. Then, when it was all over, he hung around, first as a part-time skills coach, then as a board member, even as an interim chief executive, as the Hawks, in trouble on the field, sought to rebuild their entire football department.

The results of that latter toil can be seen in the phenomenally successful operation that is the Hawthorn Football Club of today. And while the pats on the back have always been of little consequence to Dunstall, the ultimate team man, the Hawks have ensured he is getting the kudos those efforts over nearly 30 years have deserved.

On Saturday night at a function celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hawthorn's back-to-back premiership success of 1988-89, Dunstall became only the seventh official legend of the club. To say the company he joins is elite would be an understatement, the others John Kennedy senior, Leigh Matthews, Graham Arthur, Michael Tuck, Peter Hudson and David Parkin.

So it would be to suggest Dunstall had some pretty healthy competition for the honour, other former teammates eligible including Gary Ayres, Dermott Brereton, Gary Buckenara, Robert DiPierdomenco, Chris Langford, Chris Mew and John Platten, along with three-time Hawk premiership coach the late Allan Jeans.

Not a man given to sentiment, it's clear that to Dunstall this is no ordinary gong. "It's an incredible honour," he says. "I find it very humbling, almost a touch embarrassing, but I'm just grateful the club thought I was worthy of being recognised in such a way.

"I've been part of that club for virtually 30 years now. It's been the one constant passion and driving force in my life. I loved my time there as player, and I'd do anything to help them on and off the field post my playing time."

The depth of that connection certainly isn't lost on him given it was the last thing he envisaged when he left his native Queensland to try his luck in the VFL, signed by the Hawks on an old "Form Four" prior to the days of the national draft. Dunstall had grown up a Carlton supporter, his local club Coorparoo wearing the same outfit as the Blues.

"I was desperate to go to Carlton, but they dropped off, so in the end I had an offer from Fitzroy and an offer from Hawthorn, and they weren't big offers, I can tell you that. I sat down with my old man and basically thought that Hawthorn was the more stable club, and that's why I went there.

"For me it was just an adventure. I didn't know how long it would last. It was just an opportunity that continued to grow, and I was just very fortunate to go to that particular club at that time and stumble into a position that wasn't really taken."

Another great Hawk full-forward, Michael Moncrieff, had finished up in 1983, and Dunstall's now-fellow legend Matthews, at 32, had become a defacto spearhead the following season.

But in 1985, the goal square became Dunstall's. It would remain that way for 14 seasons, during which he topped the club goalkicking every year from 1986 until 1996, and again in his final year of 1998.

He kicked tallies of seven or more in no fewer than 58 games, and his 17.5 against Richmond in 1992 at Waverley is second only to Fred Fanning's famous 18-goal haul for Melbourne in 1947.

It's that performance which best sums up the Dunstall ethos. Not so much for the incredible goal haul, but for the fact that with the record beckoning and minutes still left on the clock, the Hawk spearhead, rather than looking for the handball over the top, was chasing his Tiger opponent down the ground deep into defence.

"I didn't know about the record," he laughs. "There were parts of the history of the game that were unfamiliar to me because I didn't grow up in Victoria." Not that the knowledge would have made much difference.

Because aside from his great leading, vice-like hands and accurate kicking, Dunstall loved the chase, the tackle and the assist every bit as much as a goal, for the 1980s, a spearhead ahead of his time. And in that regard, he always had it over the stronger Lockett and the more spectacular Ablett when it came to those endless debates about the great full-forwards.

Long-time mentor and confidante George Stone, who worked closer with Dunstall the player than anyone, was on his table on Saturday night to see his one-time pupil honoured.

Asked to recall a memory that sums up Dunstall the player, it's of the pair out on the MCG the Wednesday before another grand final appearance, a non-training night, the full-forward taking shot after practice shot at the goals.

"He was the least spectacular of the three," Stone concedes of Lockett, Ablett and his mate. "But he was certainly the most consistent and team-orientated of them. He was really strong on team ethics.

"He was such a competitor on or off the field, whether it was football or table tennis, that you knew every week what you were going to get out of him. You knew he was going to put pressure on, you knew he'd tackle, you knew he'd always give it off to someone in a better position."

Dunstall laughs at the suggestion he made boring efficiency an art form. "No, it doesn't offend me," he chuckles. "Look, you've got to go with the tools you've got. I think I played the percentages.

"I tried to play in front every time, and I think I had good hands. I didn't have a great leap like an Ablett, and I wasn't the size of 'Plugger', so I had to go with leading and playing for front position.

"And to me it was an all-round thing. Defence to me was the same as attack, and if there was a chance to be involved, I was just as desperate to chase or tackle or whatever. Maybe that's also coming from Queensland, and playing a bit of rugby. But I know I got as much satisfaction from giving a goal off to a teammate as getting one."

And post-career, Dunstall got just as much satisfaction from his club's achievements, too. Hawthorn's 2008 flag under Alastair Clarkson, whom Dunstall as fill-in CEO campaigned to have appointed as coach, is particularly special.

"To get to that stage after four years before being near the bottom of the ladder came through the hard work and brilliance of a lot of people at all levels of the club," he says. "I never thought it could satisfy me anywhere near as much as playing, but I took so much pride out of watching them win it in 2008 … it probably surprised me how much it meant to me."

As does Saturday night's recognition of just how large looms the name Dunstall in the pantheon of Hawthorn greatness. Not that most who witnessed his career need any convincing. And if Dunstall still refuses to blow his own trumpet, there's plenty only too happy to.

"He doesn't talk about his past deeds much, but I reckon he'll be pretty proud about it," says his great mate Stone. "I've been hanging around league footy now for 30 years, and he's one of the all-time greats, certainly up there with the best we've seen."


1. 17.5 v Richmond, Waverley May 1992. Fred Fanning's record of 18 goals is under serious threat as Dunstall runs amok against the Tigers. Typically, with time still to beat the record, he's chasing opponents into his own backline.

2. 1986 grand final v Carlton. Dunstall's first grand final the season before had been one to forget, the Hawks thrashed and the young spearhead held goal-less. This one announced his coming of age, booting six goals straight on Carlton champion Bruce Doull in his side's 42-point win.

3. With the Hawks looking likely to merge with Melbourne, the two clubs play each other in the final round of 1996 at the MCG. In a magnificent contest, Hawthorn emerges triumphant by one point, its spearhead booting 10 out of 15 goals, including his 100th for the season.

4. Hawthorn is in danger of missing the finals late in 1996 after two straight losses when it meets Footscray at Waverley. The Hawks' spearhead turns it on, booting an incredibly accurate 14.2 in a 20-goal tally, or 70 per cent of his side's entire score.

5. A year after missing a grand final through injury, Dunstall makes his return to the biggest stage count, booting 7.2 as the Hawks thrash Melbourne by a then-record 96 points, the seven-goal haul in a flag-decider at that point bettered only by Gordon Coventry and teammate Dermott Brereton.

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AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 108vs NTH 67 Report Stats
Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE 119vs ADE 80 Report Stats
BRI 130vs WBU 122 Report Stats
PTA 122vs FRE 53 Report Stats
HAW 113vs CAR 56 Report Stats
SYD 127vs GCF 64 Report Stats
WCE 125vs STK 30 Report Stats
Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 103vs GWS 77 Report Stats
COL 92vs ESS 95 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Fri, 11 SepTimes shown AEST
WCE 96vs HAW 64 Report Stats
Sat, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 69vs SYD 60 Report Stats
WBU 102vs ADE 109 Report Stats
Sun, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 88vs NTH 105 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Fri, 18 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 135vs ADE 61 Report Stats
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 51vs NTH 77 Report Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 67vs HAW 94 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
WCE 80vs NTH 55 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 27
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
HAW 107vs WCE 61 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 22 17 5 0 118.73 68
West Coast Eagles 22 16 5 1 148.22 66
Hawthorn 22 16 6 0 158.40 64
Sydney Swans 22 16 6 0 127.12 64
Richmond 22 15 7 0 123.09 60
Western Bulldogs 22 14 8 0 115.12 56
Adelaide Crows 21 13 8 0 115.71 54
North Melbourne 22 13 9 0 106.45 52
View all

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