These days he’s a A-grade expert comments man and a football funnyman, one of the most respected analysts in the AFL and an always humorous, often irreverent host of ‘The Bounce’ on Fox Footy.

But go back 30 years and you see what Jason Dunstall really was. Not just the No.2 goal-kicker in AFL history, but a living scourge of the club that could have been his own, the Brisbane Bears/Lions.

A one-time schoolboy soccer goalkeeper and rugby player at Churchie and a lower grades cricketer at suburban Easts, he’s the prodigious talent who made his way from Coorparoo in the QAFL to Hawthorn in the AFL.

It was in the days before the Bears. He joined the Hawks in 1985, two years before the national competition came to Queensland, ironically enough at the instigation of Ken Murphy, the Bears’ inaugural general manager.

📸 Images of Jason Dunstall

Murphy, then QAFL general manager, drove Hawthorn’s recruitment of Dunstall after an outstanding first season at Coorparoo in 1984, when he kicked 73 goals in the home-and-away season, starred for Queensland in a win over Tasmania in Hobart, and booted seven goals in a grand final win.

It was a recruiting masterstroke that became a nightmare for the club that until the recent move to Springfield was based at the Gabba barely 2km from Dunstall’s long-time base at Coorparoo.

With Brisbane to play Hawthorn at the MCG on Saturday afternoon in Round 13 of the 2023 AFL season it is a story worth recounting if only because so many fans today didn’t see the young man with the flowing dark brown hair tear the AFL apart. Especially Brisbane.

Dunstall, now 58, averaged 4.66 goals per game through a career of 269 games and 1254 goals. But against Brisbane he went at 6.06gpg. He took the Bears for 11 in his first visit to their then home at Carrara in 1987 and followed with 3-9-5-3-8-4-4-7-10-10-6-6-5-1-5-6.

Little wonder that in 1993 before the Lions signed Alastair Lynch to a 10-year contract that ran to 11 and was arguably the club’s biggest recruiting coup all-time they offered the same deal to Dunstall.

It would have been the perfect fairytale but Dunstall was 29 at the time, and with one eye on a post-football career in Melbourne that has exceeded even his highest expectations he stayed to play five more years for the Hawks.

Still, the future AFL Hall of Fame Legend is arguably the most dominant figure in the Brisbane v Hawthorn rivalry. His 16 Brownlow Medal votes in 17 games against the Bears/Lions is just shy of Simon Black’s 18 votes in 20 games, but his goal-kicking numbers over-ride that.

Dunstall kicked 103 goals in 17 games against Brisbane. In comparison, Lynch, Jonathan Brown and Daniel Bradshaw, far and away Brisbane’s top three goal-kickers all-time, kicked a combined 130 goals in 48 games against Hawthorn.

Head to Head

Brisbane have a 20-33 record against Hawthorn. It’s a rivalry that has gone in bursts. The Hawks won the first four and 13 of the first 14 from 1987-95. After six years of mixed results Brisbane won four in a row and eight of nine from 2001-07. Hawthorn won eight on the trot from 2010-17 and after Brisbane won four straight in 2018-19 the Hawks, a little surprisingly, have won the last three – one each in 2020-21-22.

It was 2-4 at Carrara, is 13-6 at the Gabba and a combined 5-23 interstate – 3-9 in Launceston, 2-5 at the MCG, 0-6 at the old Hawks’ home at Waverley, and 0-3 at their one-time home at Princes Park.

Common Players

Fourteen players have represented Brisbane and Hawthorn. It began with 1978-83 Hawks premiership player Mick McCarthy, who played his 100th career game in the Bears’ first game and included in chronological order future AFL coaches Ken Judge and Rodney Eade, Robert Mace, 1991 Bears Reserves premiership captain Rod Lester-Smith, Peter Curran, Robert Dickson and Andy Gowers, who is now the Hawthorn president.

Nathan Chapman became the first player to take the alternate route in 1997, going from Brisbane to Hawthorn, before dual Lions premiership player Brad Scott and ex-Fitzroy player John Barker effectively swapped clubs in 1988.

Rhan Hooper went Brisbane to Hawthorn in 2010 and Broc McCauley likewise in 2012, before the Chris Fagan influence took over, prompting ex-Hawks Luke Hodge, Grant Birchall and Jack Gunston to head north.

And a Common Coach

A man admired and respected at both clubs, having coached both, is Peter Knights. A 264-game triple premiership champion at the Hawks, Knights was the inaugural Bears coach from 1987-89 before taking charge at Hawthorn in 1994-95. Now 71, he was a long-time coterie manager at Hawthorn post-coaching before his retirement.

Brownlow Medal Votes

Simon Black averaged 0.27 Brownlow votes per game across his entire career, and 0.40 votes per game against Hawthorn to reign supreme in voting between the two clubs. He polled eight times in 20 games against the Hawks, including four best afield ratings, to top the aggregate votes list and share with ex-Hawk captain Shane Crawford ‘most times polled’ honours. Crawford polled eight times for 12 votes.

📸 Images of Simon Black

Michael Voss (12), Jonathan Brown (10) and Luke Power (9) are next best on the Brisbane voting list, while Jason Dunstall (16) heads the Hawthorn vote from Crawford and John Platten (12).

Major Possession-Winners

Five players have posted 40-possession games in meetings between the two clubs. Brisbane’s David Bain was first with 40 in 1990, and after a 25-year wait Brisbane’s Tom Rockliff had 45. The last three 40+ games have belonged to Hawthorn – Jordan Lewis’ 42 in 2016 before Tom Mitchell’s record 46 in 2016 and 43 in 2018.

Shane Crawford, with six games of 30 or more possessions, heads the 30+ list from Tom Mitchell, now at Collingwood, and Brisbane’s Simon Black and Luke Power, each with five. Luke Hodge had four 30+ games in Hawk colors before heading north.

Goal-Kicking Records

Jason Dunstall’s 11-goal bag in his first game at Carrara in 1987 is still the record between the clubs, while his 10 in 1993 is the best overall at the Gabba. Dunstall’s 10 in 1994 and his nine in 1988 give him the top four individual performances, while Jonathan Brown’s eight goals at Carrara in 2006 is Brisbane’s best. In a mark that in itself is outstanding but one which pales in comparison to Dunstall’s 13 games of four or more goals, Brown (4-4-5-6-8-4), Daniel Bradshaw (7-4-5-5-5-7) and Alastair Lynch (4-4-5-5-4-6) had six each and Lance Franklin (4-5-6-6-5) five.

Highest & Lowest

Brisbane’s highest score and biggest win against Hawthorn came in the same game in Round 2 2002 at the Gabba, when they beat Hawthorn 21-22 (148) to 6-10 (46). It was Leigh Matthews’ 300th game as an AFL coach, with Alastair Lynch and Daniel Bradshaw kicking five goals apiece to lead the celebration.

Brisbane’s lowest score against Hawthorn was 2-5 (17) in the wet at Princes Park in Round 12 1988, when they lost by 63 points, while their biggest loss was by 99 points at the Gabba in 1994, when Jason Dunstall kicked 10.

Hawthorn Form Guide

The rebuilding Hawks will take a 3-9 record in Saturday’s game at the MCG, having beaten North Melbourne by 19 points in Launceston in Round 3, smashed West Coast by 116 points in Launceston in Round 10, and upset St.Kilda by 10 points at Marvel Stadium in Round 11 before an odd 55-point loss to Port Adelaide in Adelaide on Saturday, when they trailed by 95 points late in the third quarter before kicking eight of the last 10 goals.

First-year captain James Sicily has been his side’s No.1 ball-winner, averaging 26.5 possessions per game. In his last outing Sicily had a career-best 43 possessions against the Saints but copped a one-game suspension that will see him fresh this week.

Rising Star Will Day (25.8ppg), James Worpel (25.2ppg), Jai Newcombe (23.5ppg) and Irishman Connor Nash (23.4ppg) have been the Hawks’ other major ball-winners, while veteran Luke Breust, who kicked five against Port on Saturday to become the seventh Hawthorn player to top 500 goals for the club, is their No.1 goal-kicker with 23. Mitch Lewis, who missed the first six games through injury, has 16 goals, while exciting youngster Tyler Brockman has 10.

In the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year Award, Sicily and Newcombe head the Hawk vote with 27, while Dylan Moore (14), Day (13), Lewis (12) and Nash (10) are next best.