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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 2016

Round 1
Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
BRI vs NTH 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:25ES
FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs COL 13:45MCG
RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
HAW vs STK 14:10AS
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs GWS 13:10ES
FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL vs STK 13:45ES
ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 13:10G
CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs NTH 15:20ES
PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
BRI vs COL 19:25G
RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs ESS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs HAW 13:45G
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
STK vs FRE 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 12
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
BRI vs FRE 16:35G
GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 13:10ES
RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:40G
FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
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Round 15
Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
GCF vs STK 13:40MS
SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
ESS vs STK 16:40ES
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Round 17
Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 15:20ES
BRI vs GWS 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs STK 19:25ES
GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
BRI vs PTA 19:25G
NTH vs STK 19:25ES
Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 19:50ES
Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CAR 13:45G
HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs SYD 19:25ES
PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
COL vs GCF 19:25ES
PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
BRI vs GEE 15:20G
ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
STK vs BRI 12:00ES
ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
View all

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