Jason Dunstall news delights AFL fans as Hawthorn champion elevated to legend status

The 59-year-old won four premierships with the Hawks and has the third-most goals of all time.

AFL fans are sending congratulatory messages to Jason Dunstall after the Hawthorn champion was chosen to be elevated to Legend status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame. Dunstall won four premierships and kicked 1254 goals in a glittering 269-game career in the VFL/AFL before injuries forced him into a somewhat premature retirement in 1998.

Only Tony Lockett (1360) and Gordon Coventry (1299) have more goals than Dunstall in VFL/AFL history, and the 59-year-old also won two AFL Players' Association MVP awards. The league revealed on Monday that the Queenslander will officially be elevated to Legend status at the Hall of Fame induction dinner in Melbourne on June 18.

Jason Dunstall is set to be elevated to Legend status in the AFL Hall of Fame. Image: Getty
Jason Dunstall is set to be elevated to Legend status in the AFL Hall of Fame. Image: Getty

"It's an incredible privilege. I feel very humbled, almost to the point of embarrassment," Dunstall, who is now a popular commentator on Fox Footy, told reporters on Monday. "When you consider there's just a tick over 30 Legends in the game, it's the highest honour you can imagine.

"I feel incredibly grateful to the AFL. It's been a massive part of my life and to sit amongst names that are synonymous with the game now is incredibly humbling."

Dunstall kicked a career-best 17 goals in a game against Richmond in 1992, which remains the second-most goals ever kicked in one match. Fred Fanning booted 18 for Melbourne against St Kilda in 1947.

Jason Dunstall in action for Hawthorn in 1997.
Jason Dunstall in action for Hawthorn in 1997.

Dunstall is one of just six players in AFL/VFL history to have kicked more than 1000 goals, and was the Hawks' most prolific scorer during a golden era that saw them win the flag in 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1991. "I was at the end of the production line at Hawthorn," he said.

"When you're full-forward and you've got all these great players further afield that continue to pump the ball down to you ... I always defer to my teammates. I was blessed to be on the receiving end of some of the most skilful players to have ever played the game."

AFL fans and pundits react to Jason Dunstall's Legend elevation

Dunstall, who finished as the league's highest scorer in three seasons, was part of a brilliant era of full-forwards that included fellow leading goal-kickers Lockett and Gary Ablett. "Plugger (Lockett) and I had a very healthy rivalry, we had a great competitiveness," Dunstall said.

"I had a couple of knee (injuries) at the end and my body was just done. I wanted to beat him badly, make no mistake about that ... but he was just too good. We had a good crop of full-forwards at the time that motivated and pushed each other along."

Jason Dunstall and Gary Ayres after the 1989 grand final.
Jason Dunstall (L) and Gary Ayres after the 1989 grand final triumph with Hawthorn.

Dunstall suffered a fractured skull in 1990 in an accidental collision with an opponent's knee - an injury that very nearly cut his career short. He spent several weeks on the sidelines but famously returned wearing a protective helmet to win a fourth flag with the Hawks the following year.


The 59-year-old did some assistant coaching at Hawthorn under Ken Judge and Peter Schwab after his playing career came to an end, but admits he never had the patience to pursue it much further. "A little taste of it was enough for me," he said.

"I'm still emotionally involved as a Hawthorn supporter through and through, but just not to have some skin in the game is nice. I've been involved in the club for a long time and did 10 years on the board, so it's nice to sit back and actually now just be a supporter and watch."

with AAP