'Humbling': Hawks great Dunstall declared AFL legend

Former Hawthorn champion Jason Dunstall has described being elevated to Legend status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame as the highest honour he could imagine - albeit one that's a little embarrassing.

A four-time premiership player, Dunstall kicked 1254 goals in a glittering 269-game AFL/VFL career before injuries forced him into retirement in 1998.

Only Tony Lockett (1360) and Gordon Coventry (1299) are higher on the competition's all-time list of leading goal-kickers.

Jason Dunstall of the Hawthorn Hawks shoots at goal v Fitzroy in 1988.
A familiar sight for Hawks fans, as Jason Dunstall takes a shot at goal against Fitzroy in 1988.

Queensland-born Dunstall will officially be elevated to Legend status at the Hall of Fame induction dinner in Melbourne on June 18.

"It's an incredible privilege. I feel very humbled, almost to the point of embarrassment," the 59-year-old 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's career-best 17 goals against Richmond in May 1992 remains the second-highest tally ever kicked by a player in a single match - behind Fred Fanning's 18 for Melbourne against St Kilda in 1947.

Dunstall is one of only six players in AFL/VFL history to have kicked more than 1000 goals and was the most prolific spearhead in a golden era for Hawthorn.

"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."

Three-time Coleman medallist Dunstall came from a great 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."

Dunstall's career was almost cut short when he suffered a fractured skull from an accidental knock from an opponent's knee in 1990.

He returned wearing a protective helmet after several weeks on the sidelines and won his fourth flag with the Hawks the following year.

Dunstall spent a brief period assisting Hawthorn coaches Ken Judge and Peter Schwab after his retirement as a player but admits he never had the patience to pursue coaching.

"A little taste of it was enough for me," Dunstall 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."

JASON DUNSTALL'S CAREER RECORD

Games: 269 (Hawthorn 1985-98)

Goals: 1254 (third all-time)

Premierships: Four (1986, 1988, 1989, 1991)

Best-and-fairest: Four (1988, 1989, 1992, 1993)

Club leading goal-kicker: 12 (1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998)

Coleman Medal: Three (1988, 1989, 1992)

All-Australian: Four (1988, 1989, 1992, 1994)

Hawthorn captain: 1995-98

Hawthorn Team of the Century

State games: Eight (Victoria three, Queensland four, Allies one)

E.J. Whitten Medal: 1989

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