Hudson's eight-goal Hawks helicopter haul recalled

·3-min read

What connects legendary Australian comedy character Norman Gunston, fog, the defunct airline TAA and the Victorian Police Academy at suburban Waverley?

They all played their parts in one of the AFL's most iconic moments, when Hawthorn goalkicking machine Peter Hudson arrived at a game in a helicopter.

Hudson's only game in the 1973 VFL season was remembered on Tuesday at Waverley Park, with a helicopter landing on the oval, 50 years after he kicked eight goals there in a season-defining loss to Collingwood.

"That's my claim to glory at Waverley. It's amazing over the years how often it's been brought up," said the Australian football Hall Of Fame legend.

Hudson had not played at all since suffering a knee injury in round one of the previous season.

Hawthorn had to beat Collingwood to make the finals, so legendary coach John Kennedy asked Hudson if he would fly over from Tasmania and make a comeback.

"He said 'I will come down to Tassie to see how you are'," Hudson said.

"I ran from one end of an oval to the other, blowing like a draught horse, and John said 'ooh, a bit worse than I thought'.

"I trained for a whole fortnight, flat-out, and then played."

Enter Norman Gunston.

"I couldn't come over on Friday for the game because Norman Gunston was appearing at my hotel and I wanted to be there for that," he said.

So the scheme was concocted for Hudson to fly in on the morning of the game and then be ferried by helicopter from the airport to Waverley.

"It was known to have the odd bit of a traffic jam out here on match day," said Hudson, in one of the great understatements.

But the plan was nearly derailed on the Saturday morning, with fog shutting airports on the east coast.

Hudson was supposed to fly with Ansett, but he received a phone call from TAA advising him they they had a diverted plane in Hobart that was going to Melbourne.

The passengers were Hudson, his wife and five flight attendants.

"I said to one of the stewards, if all the airports are closed, what happens if we get to Melbourne? And she said 'Adelaide'," he said.

But the flight landed in Melbourne and Hudson was flown out to Waverley.

The next part of the legend is why there is no footage of Hudson arriving at the game - his helicopter didn't land on Waverley Park, but at the nearby Police Academy.

"I went alright. I kicked eight goals, but I reckon five of them came from flukes," Hudson said.

"If I'd thought about it, I wouldn't have done it.

"It turned out alright."

Hawthorn's loss meant they missed the finals, but Hudson would kick an astonishing 1721 goals across 288 games for Hawthorn and Tasmanian teams New Norfolk and Glenorchy.

He remains a passionate Hawks fan and is also rapt that Tasmania will finally have its own AFL team.

"I've got that covered ... I'm looking forward to Tasmania and Hawthorn playing in a grand final," he said.

Hudson was on hand to help promote Hawthorn's emergency services tribute match on Saturday, against Melbourne at the MCG, with the rescue helicopter as the backdrop.

"The players saw the helicopter and were like little kids. I imagine the people who see the helicopter when they really need it, it's probably the best sight they're ever going to see in their lives," said Hawks coach Sam Mitchell.