AFL 2024: Jason Dunstall will be made the 32nd Legend of the Hall of Fame

Hawthorn champion Jason Dunstall says he feels “a hint of embarrassment” after being elevated to Legend status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

The AFL announced Dunstall, the third-most prolific forward in league history with 1254 goals, would receive the honour on Monday in a special announcement two months ahead of the Hall of Fame dinner.

The four-time premiership player, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, will become the 32nd player to be elevated to Legend status and the first Queenslander to achieve the honour.

“I’m a little overwhelmed at the moment, it’s an incredible privilege. I feel very humbled, almost to the point of embarrassment, when you consider there’s just a tick over 30 Legends in the game, it’s the highest honour you can imagine,” Dunstall said.

“I feel incredibly grateful to the AFL, it’s been a massive part of my life and to sit among names which are synonymous with the game now, as I said, incredibly humbling.

“I’ve loved being part of the AFL, it’s basically given me a life I’d never dreamt of, and to have this honour bestowed upon me is just top of the tree.”

Dunstall’s selection was well earned. He kicked more than 100 goals in a season six times in (1988, ’89, ’92, ‘93, ’94 and ‘96), with a best of 145 goals in 1992, the same year he booted a personal-best 17 goals in a single game against Richmond in round 7 at Waverley Park.

He twice finished second in the Brownlow Medal, was a four-time club best and fairest winner and a four-time premiership player with the Hawks whom he also captained for five seasons. Dunstall was the AFL leading goalkicker three times, the Hawthorn leading goalkicker 12 times and is in his club’s Team of the Century.

AFL chairman Richard Goyder said the decision to announce Dunstall’s elevation early was made partly due to the difficulty he would have keeping the news secret in his prominent media role with Fox Footy.

Dunstall, 59, had received a call from Goyder with the news while he was with media colleagues at a game earlier this season and had tactfully responded ‘Oh, yep, thanks’ to the chairman’s call to try to avert suspicion.

He said he wished to continue “deferring” to Hawthorn’s fleet of outstanding midfielders during the 1980s and 90s who had given him excellent supply on his way to three Coleman medals.

“I was at the end of the production line at Hawthorn – when you’re full-forward, you’ve got all these great players further afield that continued to pump the ball down to you,” he said.

“I always defer to my teammates. I was blessed to be on the receiving end of some of the most skillful players to have ever played the game.”

Dunstall said he would have “absolutely” kept playing to go toe-to-toe with goals record-holder Tony Lockett if not for knee injuries which forced his retirement.

Lockett, who kicked 1360 goals, and Collingwood great Gordon Coventry (1299) are both Hall of Fame Legends.

“Oh absolutely (I wish I kept playing) – Plugger and I had a very healthy rivalry, we had a great competitiveness.

“I had a couple of (knee injuries) at the end and my body was just done … everyone played on a Saturday afternoon and you’d had a good day, you might’ve kicked seven or eight, and you’d come off the ground and go, ‘oh, what was the St Kilda score?’

“They got beaten by 80 points, and they only score 70 points themselves, the trouble is Plugger kicked 10 of their 11, and you’d actually lose ground! He was just too good.

“I think we had a good crop of full-forwards at the time that motivated and pushed each other along.”

The other Australian Football Hall of Fame inductees will be announced at the official event on June 18.

Goyder said controversial West Coast premiership star and Brownlow medallist Ben Cousins could be looked at for an induction “in due course” after he was overlooked among his retirement class due to his chequered history.

“I won’t talk about Hall of Fame, I will say it’s a joy to see Ben in the shape he’s in right now, and I’ve seen a fair bit of him in the west,” Goyder said.

“I think (Cousins’ recovery) is fantastic … what I would say with Hall of Fame, and it’s almost my precursor to our committee discussions each year is it’s not who’s in, it’s who’s not in.

“It’s an incredibly high bar to be a Hall of Famer in the AFL, and it’s even higher to be a Legend, so we’ll look at those things in due course.”


Playing career: 1985-1998

Games: 269. Goals: 1254

Player honours

2nd (equal) Brownlow Medal 1988, 1992, 3rd (equal) Brownlow Medal 1989

Hawthorn Best & Fairest 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993

Hawthorn captain 1995-98;

Premierships 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991

Club leading goalkicker 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998

Coleman Medal 1988, 1989, 1992

Hawthorn Team of the Century

All Australian 1988, 1989, 1992, 1994

State of Origin – Victoria (3 games, 14 goals); Queensland (4 games, 10 goals); Allies (1 game, 0 goals).