Tomahawk & Jumping Jack on the Farm

Carey-Bunton Medal is for the best NSW player in the AFL, awarded each year.

Tom Hawkins with his father, Jumping Jack

The name Hawkins is synonymous with both the Finley and Geelong Football Clubs.

While Tom has been at the Cats since 2007 his father and uncles spent time down at Kardinia Park back in the 1970s and early 80s when his father “Jumping” Jack Hawkins carved out cult status as a high-flying, devil-may-care defender with his spectacular leaps.

Jack played 182 games for Geelong from 1973-81 until a knee injury curtailed his career; while his brothers, Mike (2 games in 1973) and Robb (3 games in 1984) only eked out a few games they had stellar careers for the Finley Cats in the Murray Football League.

Jack and Mike recently attended the reunion of the 1971 Finley premiership team that beat their arch-rival Deniliquin. It was the only premiership team that Jack played in as on his return from Geelong he played only one game before he again succumbed to the knee injury and retired.

Tom had another superb game for Geelong in round 16 of this AFL season and scored seven votes in the Cats’ 112-point win over North Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium to move into equal fourth place with Swans star forward Isaac Heeney, on 22 votes, but trailing well behind long-time leader Callum Mills (Sydney Swans) on 48 votes.

He also booted six goals to establish a clear lead in the Mohr medal for the NSW leading goalkicker in the AFL this season. There is now a twelve-goal gap between him and Port Adelaide’s Todd Marshall, who was recruited from Finley’s strongest rival, Deniliquin.

Tom has now kicked 707 goals in 317 games. He won his first Coleman medal in 2020. Additionally, he played in the 2009 and 2011 premierships and has been All-Australian four times. Tom won the Carey Bunton medal for the best NSW player in the AFL in 2020.


Votes Round 16

48 Callum Mills (Mosman Swans) – Sydney Swans
37 Taylor Walker (Norths – Broken Hill) – Adelaide
33 Jarrad Witts (Sydney University) – Gold Coast
33 Todd Marshall (Deniliquin Rams) – Port Adelaide
22 Isaac Heeney (Cardiff) – Sydney Swans
22 Tom Hawkins (Finley) – Geelong (Rnd 16 – 7 votes v NM)
17 Lachie Schultz (Moama) – Fremantle
15 Matt Kennedy (Collingullie) – Carlton 27
11 Isaac Smith (Cootamundra) – Geelong
11 Isaac Cumming (Norths – Broken Hill) – GWS Giants
10 Elliott Himmelberg (Mangoplah CUE) – Adelaide
9 Harry Himmelberg (Mangoplah CUE) – GWS Giants
8 Nick Blakey (UNSW-Eastern Suburbs) – Sydney Swans
6 Errol Gulden (UNSW-Eastern Suburbs) – Sydney Swans
6 James Peatling (Pennant Hills) – GWS Giants
5 Jeremy Finlayson (Culcairn) – Port Adelaide)
5 Harry Perryman (Collingullie) – GWS Giants
3 Dougal Howard (Wagga Tigers) – St Kilda
2 Charlie Spargo (Albury Tigers) – Melbourne
1 Matt Flynn (Narrandera) – GWS Giants

MOHR MEDAL (for highest goalkicker of NSW player in the AFL)

Goals Round 16
42 Tom Hawkins (Finley) – Geelong (Rnd 16 – 6 goals)

32 Todd Marshall (Deniliquin) – Port Adelaide (Rnd 16 – 1 goal)
30 Isaac Heeney (Cardiff) – Sydney Swans (Rnd 16 – 2 goals)
30 Taylor Walker (Norths – Broken Hill) – Adelaide (Rnd 16 – 2 goals)
26 Luke Breust (Temora) – Hawthorn (Rnd 16 – 1 goal)

Cootamundra Comet Scores Full Points

Isaac Smith

The “Cootamundra Comet” Geelong’s fleet-footed winger Isaac Smith scored the maximum number of votes for his outstanding game in the thrilling 10-point win over the Brisbane Lions in round 4.

His 29-disposals, ten marks, one goal-assist, and one goal was a leading factor in the Cats victory.

Meanwhile Gold Coast ruckman, Jarrad Witts scored nine votes for his commanding ruck display in the Suns win over Carlton on the Gold Coast.

Geelong power forward Tom Hawkins with 5 goals has gone to the top of the leader-board for the Mohr medal for the leading goalkicker. His outstanding performance also earnt him 7 votes in the Carey Bunton medal.

Hawkins is now level-pegging with Swans star forward Isaac Heeney in the champion player award and two goals ahead of him in the Mohr Medal for the leading goalkicker.

The Mohr medal is named after St Kilda champion full-forward of the 1930s from Wagga.


Votes Round 4
15 Isaac Heeney (Cardiff) – Sydney Swans

15 Tom Hawkins (Finley) – Geelong (R4 – 7 votes v BRI)
11 Callum Mills (Mosman Swans) – Sydney Swans (R4 – 3 votes v NM)
10 Isaac Smith (Cootamundra) – Geelong (R4 – 10 votes v BRI)
10 Lachie Schultz (Moama) – Fremantle

10 Jarrad Witts (Sydney University) – Gold Coast (R4 – 9 votes v CAR)
  8 Matt Kennedy (Collingullie) – Carlton

  8 Todd Marshall (Deniliquin Rams) – Port Adelaide
  6 Elliott Himmelberg (Mangoplah CUE) – Adelaide
  4 Taylor Walker (Norths – Broken Hill) – Adelaide (R4 – 4 votes v ESS)
  1 Errol Gulden (UNSW-Eastern Suburbs) – Sydney Swans

  1 Nick Blakey (UNSW-Eastern Suburbs) – Sydney Swans
  1 Isaac Cumming (North Broken Hill) – GWS Giants (R4 – 1 vote v FREO)


Goals Round 4
13 Tom Hawkins (Finley) – Geelong (R4 – 5 goals v BRIS) 

11 Isaac Heeney (Cardiff) – Sydney Swans (R4 – 2 goals v NM) 
10 Harry Himmelberg (MCUE) – GWS Giants (R4 – 2 goals v FREO)
  6 Todd Marshall (Deniliquin Rams) – Port Adelaide

  6 Lachie Schultz (Moama) –  Fremantle (R4 – 1 goal v GWS)     
  6 Elliott Himmelberg (Mangoplah CUE) – Adelaide (R4 – 2 goals v ESS)
  5 Luke Breust (Temora) – Hawthorn
(R4 – 3 goals v STK)

‘Gullie boys get amongst the votes

     Matthew Kennedy

Former Collingullie-Glenfield Park and GWS Giants team-mates Matthew Kennedy and Harry Perryman (Giants) both received votes for this round in this year’s Carey Bunton Medal for the best player from NSW in the AFL based on voting in the AFL Coaches Association Award.

Now playing for Carlton, Kennedy scored seven votes for his outstanding performance in the Blues convincing win over Collingwood at Marvel Stadium while Perryman polled three votes in the Giants loss to the Sydney Swans on the Gold Coast.

Jacob Hopper retains the lead in the award with forty-eight votes, ten votes clear of Adelaide forward Taylor Walker, and dashing Swans mid-fielder Callum Mills, who sensationally missed the win over the Giants due to a Covoid scare.


48 Jacob Hopper (Leeton-Whitton) – GWS Giants
38 Taylor Walker (North Broken Hill) – Adelaide
37 Callum Mills (Mosman) – Sydney Swans
29 Tom Hawkins (Finley) – Geelong (R18 7 votes v FRE)
27 Isaac Heeney (Cardiff) – Sydney Swans
10 Sam Wicks (Manly-Warringah) – Sydney Swans
10 Zach Williams (Narrandera) – Carlton
9 Errol Gulden (UNSW-Eastern Suburbs) – Sydney Swans
8 Lachie Schultz ((Moama) – Fremantle
8 Luke Breust (Temora) – Hawthorn (R18 6 votes v MEL)
7 Matthew Kennedy (Collingullie) – Carlton (R18 7 votes v COL)
6 Jacob Koschitzke (Albury) – Hawthorn
6 Dane Rampe (UNSW-Eastern Suburbs) Sydney Swans
6 Jeremy Finlayson (Culcairn) – GWS Giants
6 Harry Perryman (Collingullie) – GWS Giants (R18 3 votes v SYD)
5 Braeden Campbell (Pennant Hills) – Sydney Swans
5 Taylor Duryea (Corowa) – Western Bulldogs
4 Harry Cunningham (Turvey Park) – Sydney Swans
4 Dougal Howard (Wagga Tigers) – St Kilda
3 Matthew Flynn (Narrandera) – GWS Giants
3 Isaac Smith (Cootamundra) – Geelong
2 Harry Himmelberg (Mangoplah-Cookardinia United) – GWS Giants
2 Jarrad Witts (Sydney University) – Gold Coast
2 Todd Marshall (Deniliquin) – Port Adelaide

Announcement of Carey-Bunton Medal Results and NSW 2020 Origin Team

Richard Colless NSWAFL and later AFL NSWACT Chairman 1997-2000

The New South Wales Australian Football History Society is pleased to advise the results of its new awards and team of the year for NSW players in the AFL in season 2020.

Society patron Richard Colless, who instigated the introduction of the awards at the start of this season said, “I am delighted to announce the winners of the various awards and the NSW State-of-Origin team for 2020”.

“While it has been a shortened season, it nonetheless has been a highly competitive one. We had twenty-one different players poll votes in the Carey-Bunton Medal, which shows the growing depth and quality of NSW players in the AFL.”

“The winner of the Carey-Bunton Medal, Tom Hawkins had an outstanding season marked by topping the goal-kicking with 42 goals, and thus winning the Coleman Medal for the first time. For these two honours, Tom was selected as the recipient of the Achievement Award”.

“Lachie Schultz, originally from Moama, just across the border from Echuca, has shown remarkable persistence to achieve his dream of a career in the AFL and his performances this season for Fremantle earnt him the Emerging Talent Award”.

“The Origin team was selected from the 49 players currently in the AFL from NSW-based clubs, ranging from Broken Hill in the west, to Newcastle in the north, Tathra on the far south coast, Sydney, and of course, the Riverina and southern border districts”.

“As the convenor of the selection panel, I want to thank the selectors, Gerard Healy, Mike Sheahan, Mark Maclure, and Wayne Carey, as well as Dr Rodney Gillett for his research and administrative support”.

“We were very pleased to have the support from the AFL Coaches Association for the voting system for the Carey-Bunton Medal, it provided tremendous credibility for the award. Thank you to Mark Brayshaw and his team at the AFLCA”.

“And finally, thanks to the media, particularly the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, but also all the regional newspapers for their enthusiasm and support for our awards”.

Tom Hawkins

Tom Hawkins (Finley)
Geelong Football Club
Full voting details below.

Tom Hawkins (Finley) – Geelong Football Club


Lackie Schultz

Lachlan Schultz (Moama)
Fremantle Football Club





Coach: John Longmire Sydney (Corowa Rutherglen Kangaroos)
Assistant Coaches:  Brett Kirk Sydney (North Albury Grasshoppers) Mark McVeigh GWS (Pennant Hills Demons), Jarryd McVeigh Sydney (Pennant Hills Demons), Adam Schneider GWS (Osborne Tigers).
Fullback Back line Harry Cunningham Dougal Howard Harry Perryman
Sydney Swans St Kilda GWS
Turvey Park Bulldogs Wagga Tigers Collingullie Glenfield Park Demons
Half Back Line Callum Mills Dane Rampe (v-capt) Zac Williams
Sydney Swans Sydney Swans GWS
North Shore Bombers ES-UNSW Bulldogs Narrandera Imperials
Centre Line Isaac Smith Jacob Hopper Will Setterfield
Hawthorn GWS Carltonb
East Wagga Kooringal Hawks Leeton-Whitton Crows Albury Tigers
Half Forward Line Luke Breust Tom Hawkins (capt) Lachie Schultz
  Hawthorn Geelong Fremantle
  Temora Kangaroos Finley Cats Moama Magpies
Full Forward Line Michael Gibbons Harry Himmelberg Taylor Walker
  Carlton GWS Adelaide
  Lavington Panthers Mangoplah-Cookardinia United Eastlakes Goannas North Broken Hill Bulldogs
Ruck Jarrod Witts Isaac Heeney Andrew Kennedy
  Gold Coast Sydney Swans Carlton
  Sydney University Students Cardiff Hawks Collingullie Glenfield Park Demons
Interchange Jeremy Finlayson Aaron VandenBerg
  GWS Melbourne
  Culcairn Lions Tathra Sea Eagles
  Nick Blakey Todd Marshall
  Sydney Swans Port Adelaide
  ES-UNSW Deniliquin Rams


1 Tom Hawkins (GEEL) 35 
2 Jarrod Witts (GCC) 31
3 Dane Rampe (SYD) 20
3 Harry Perryman (GWS) 20
5 Isaac Heeney (SYD) 19
6 Jacob Hopper (GWS) 12
7 Callum Mills (SYD) 11
8 Isaac Smith (HAW) 9
9 Derek Eggmolesse-Smith (RICH) 8
9 Dougal Howard (ST K) 8
11 Zac Williams (GWS) 5
12 Nick Blakey (SYD) 4
12 Jacob Townsend (ESS) 4
12 Matthew Kennedy (CARL) 4
15 Luke Breust (HAW) 3
15 Jeremy Finlayson (GWS) 3
17 Michael Gibbons (CARL) 3
18 Todd Marshall (PA) (2)
18 Harry Himmelberg (GWS) 2
18 Charlie Spargo (MEL) 2
18 Elliott Himmelberg (ADEL) 2


Before the Tomahawk there was Jumping Jack

Australian Football celebrates its 140th anniversary in NSW this year after the founding of the NSW Football Association in Sydney in 1880.

Rod Gillett profiles the nomination of Jack Hawkins for the Hall of Fame:

Tom and Jack Hawkins on the family farm in Finley in southern NSW Photo: Herald-Sun

‘Jumping Jack’ Hawkins went about his footy in a different way to his famous son Tom but his high flying marks in the 1970s and 1980s gave Cats fans a nice warm up for what was to come 26 years later.

While Tom’s career is still going strong at 32 Jack’s was sadly cut short by a knee injury at only 27. He returned home to Finley to run the family farm and play footy but the injury restricted him to just 2 games.

His contribution to footy however was far from over and Jack has helped run the Finley Football Club and the Murray Football League for more than four decades.

Not surprisingly his extended time in NSW footy has been supplemented by plenty of time watching his son carve out a stellar career at his old stomping ground, Kardinia Park. Looking back at his time there Jack says he couldn’t have ended up at a better club.

“It (Geelong) was a great place for a country lad to be. I was very comfortable. And as a farmer, I found a wife!” he told me for this story.

Jack studied agriculture at the Marcus Oldham College and then worked on a farm just outside Geelong. But at the end of each football season he would head back to the family farm for the harvest and not return until the end of January. It was the age of the part-time footballer.

On the field he was renowned for his vertical leaps to take marks on the last line of defence. A team-mate, Phil Stevens bestowed on him the nickname, “Jumping Jack”. Then colourful VFL commentator Lou Richards got hold of it, and it stuck.

He played 182 games and kicked twenty goals for the Cats from 1973 to 1981. He also represented Victoria.

Upon returning home, Jack joined the committee, and later became president of the Finley Football Club from 1987-89. He also served on the Murray Football League executive from 1990 before having a spell for five years then he returned as president in 2009 until he stepped down at the end of the 2017 season.

During his period in office there was a transformation in the Murray league with new clubs such as Tongala, Moama, Echuca United and Rumbularra coming in, and the exit of foundation clubs: Tocumwal, Berrigan and Strathmerton to the nearby Picola & District League.

Also towards the end of his term, Tungamah and Katandra came into the competition after a dispute between the Picola league and AFL Victoria to bring the number of clubs up to 14.

Jack also became a selector for NSW State teams at the behest of old mate and rival Terry Daniher, who was coach of the NSW State team while coaching Wagga Tigers at the time. This included the match against the VFA as a curtain-raiser to the Victoria v South Australia match at the MCG in 1995 when Teddy Whitten was emotionally farewelled.

It was to be the VFA’s last-ever representative match. NSW had first played the VFA in 1881.

    Jumping Jack            Hawkins

Jack would drive up to Wagga for training accompanied by prospective State players from the Murray League, a round trip of almost five hours.

“It was a lot of fun with TD. There was nothing complicated about training. He kept it simple. But he would tell a player if he wasn’t up to the required level. There was always a convivial drink afterwards”.

The connection between the Geelong and Finley footy clubs runs deep in the Hawkins family. Jack’s brothers, Michael and Robb, also both played in the VFL for Geelong. Michael and Jack played together for Finley in the 1971 premiership win over Deniliquin.

Jack’s eldest son Tom has already played in two premiership teams and kicked 594 goals in the AFL. Tom is the current leader in the Coleman Medal at the end of round 17. He also leads the Football History Society’s Carey-Bunton Medal for the Best NSW player in the AFL. Younger son, Charlie is playing for Old Geelong in the Victorian Amateurs footy after beginning at Finley.

Hawkins Propels into Contention for Carey-Bunton Medal

Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins has propelled into contention for the Carey-Bunton Medal for the Best NSW Player in the AFL in 2020 by scoring 15 votes in the past two games.

The Big Cat scored the perfect 10 for his six- goal haul against Port Adelaide at Metricon Stadium and 5 votes when he booted five goals in Geelong’s win over St Kilda at the Gabba.

Hawkins now has a career total of 584 goals since joining Geelong from Murray Football League club Finley in 2007 via Melbourne Grammar.

Gold Coast skipper Jarrod Witts still retains the lead by four votes but he is being challenged by Hawkins and also Sydney Swans star defender Dean Rampe who received four votes for his outstanding game in defence against the GWS Giants.

Votes scored by Melbourne’s small forward Charlie Spargo (Albury) and Nick Blakey (UNSW-Eastern Suburbs) of the Sydney Swans brings the number of NSW players to receive votes in the award this season to twenty.


1 Jarrod Witts (GCC) 31

2 Tom Hawkins (GEEL) 27 (R11 5 VOTES v ST K; R12 10 VOTES v PA)

3 Dane Rampe (SYD) 20 (R12 4 VOTES v GWS)

4 Isaac Heeney (SYD) 19

5 Harry Perryman (GWS) 18

6 Jacob Hopper (GWS) 11)

7 Callum Mills (SYD) 10

8 Isaac Smith (HAW) 9

9 Derek Eggmolesse-Smith (RICH) 8

9 Dougal Howard (ST K) 8 

11 Zac Williams (GWS) 5

12 Jacob Townsend (ESS) 4

12 Matthew Kennedy (CARL) 4

14 Luke Breust (HAW) 3

14 Jeremy Finlayson (GWS) 3

16 Todd Marshall (PA) 2

16 Michael Gibbons (CARL) 2

16 Harry Himmelberg (GWS) 2

16 Nick Blakey (SYD) 2 (R12 2 VOTES v GWS)

16 Charlie Spargo (MEL) 2 (R12 2 VOTES v COLL)

HAWKINS CLAN – A footballing family from Finley NSW

Tom HawkinsThe Hawkins clan are an exceptional footballing family from Finley in southern NSW.

Four members of the family were on the selection list for the NSW Greatest Team.

Current Geelong power forward Tom Hawkins, who was named an All-Australian for the second time in 2019, was selected on the interchange bench in the NSW Greatest Team.

His father, Jack, was in serious contention for a back pocket berth but was edged out by dual premiership players Chris Lethbridge (Sydney YMCA/Fitzroy) and Ross Henshaw (North Albury/North Melbourne).

Jack’s brothers, Michael and Robb, who both played in the VFL for Geelong, were also on the list.

Since being drafted under the father-son rule by Geelong in 2006, Tom Hawkins has played 254 games for the Cats. In his football career to date he has won two premierships (2009 & 2011), seven leading goal-kicking awards, a club best and fairest (2012), and booted 550 goals (at the end round 22, 2019).

Hawkins was born and raised in Finley and went to the local high school before moving south to be a boarder at Melbourne Grammar, a school his father also attended. He played his early football for Finley in the Murray League as well as when returning home for school holidays.

“Away from the farm, I loved playing sport – I played football and cricket for Finley. There used to be social tennis on Monday night, and I enjoyed that. My parents encouraged us to be involved in sport”, he told Country Style (1 May 2018).

Tom’s father, “Jumping” Jack Hawkins was a cult-figure at Geelong where he played from 1973 to 1981 accumulating 182 games and kicking twenty goals. He also represented Victoria.

He was renowned for his vertical leaping to take marks on the last line of defence. He was the school high jump champion. Hence his nickname, “Jumping Jack”.Jumping <br>Jack Hawkins

Jack suffered a serious knee injury in 1982 which resulted in his retirement from football in 1983.

He went home to the farm but could only play only one game for the local side due to the debilitating knee injury. He did however play in a premiership team for Finley in 1971 with his brother Michael. They beat Deniliquin in the grand final under journeyman country football coach Wally Mumford.

Jack later became president of the Finley Football Club from 1987-89 and then served on the MFL executive from 1990 including the last nine years as president until he stepped down at the end of last season.

He said he needed more time to relax and time to see both of his sons play football.

“I’ve been trying to balance out Murray league duties and watch Charlie playing for Finley as well as travelling to Geelong to watch Tom”, he told the Southern Riverina Weekly (3 January 2018).

Michael played two senior games on match permits with Geelong in 1973 when Finley had byes. He replaced the injured Ian “Bluey” Hampshire as first ruck.

He continued to play for Finley and was a key member of the 1981-82 premierships under ex Fitzroy player Mark Newton. He was also a regular Murray league representative in NSW State and country championship fixtures. Michael was recently inducted into the Finley Football Club Hall of Fame.

Robb Hawkins also went to Geelong under zoning but after not playing a senior game he went to South Adelaide in the SANFL in 1979 where he carved out a niche career of 115 games, two best and fairest awards, and state selection in 1981.

He returned to Geelong in 1984 but only played three games. He went to Sydney in 1984 but injuries curtailed his career at the highest level.

Robb returned home to the farm and to play for Finley. He led the club to the 1988 premiership. He has had three stints coaching the club as well as coaching juniors and a member of the match committee.

Wynne HawkinsThe father of the Hawkins brothers, Wynne, played for near neighbours and arch rivals, Tocumwal. He sought a clearance from Toc. when he moved to a farm near to Finley. It was denied and he never played again. He was aged in his mid-twenties.

There is a history of acrimony between Tocumwal and Finley. This is captured on the Tocumwal Football Club’s website, which has excellent coverage of the club’s history. There is a section entitled “Bloody Finley”, which details some of the more colourful incidents between the two clubs. (

One of the most interesting concerns the coach of the NSW Greatest Team and legendary St Kilda & Hawthorn premiership coach Allan Jeans.

Jeans was recruited to St Kilda from Finley in 1955, but he was originally a Tocumwal player. He was enticed to play for Finley in 1952 by a good offer to play and work in a local pub when the 1951 Toc. coach Bert DeAbbel went to coach Finley and run the Albion Hotel.  Tocumwal refused the clearance and Jeans stood out of football for a year. He was cleared to Finley the next year.

Finley has been a rich source of players for the VFL/AFL. Other players on the NSW Greatest Team list from Finley are David Murphy (Sydney Swans), Peter Baldwin (Geelong), Damian Sexton (St Kilda), Bert Taylor (Melbourne), Darren Jackson (Geelong), Shane Crawford (Hawthorn) and Mark Whiley (GWS & Carlton).

However, it is the Hawkins that name is the most strongly linked with Finley and they have all contributed significantly to the Finley FC, the Murray League and the game in NSW.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: David Murphy (Sydney), Hamish Bull (Deniliquin), Mick Taylor & Mark O’Bryan (champions and stalwarts of the Finley Football Club) and the Tocumwal Football Club) for information and feedback.  Author – Rod Gillett


As it did when Sydney won in 2012, this year the premiership will feature New South Welshmen.  But the question is, how many?

Today though, presents an opportune time to reflect on the best performances by New South Wales players in some VFL/AFL grand finals.

1. Lenny Hayes (Pennant Hills) – St Kilda v Collingwood, 2010 (drawn grand final)

Lenny Hayes produced the greatest grand final performance from a New South Wales player when he starred in the 2010 drawn grand final.

In the process, Hayes received the honour of being the first player from NSW to win the Norm Smith Medal “ a clear winner by six votes over the next best player.

The statistics confirm Hayes’ dominance in this match, as he was the leading possession winner on the ground with 32, as well as racking up a game-high 12 tackles.

2. Tom ˜Tomahawk” Hawkins (Finley) Geelong v Collingwood, 2011

The high rating for Tom Hawkins is due to his momentum stealing second half in the 2011 decider.

Every time Collingwood gained the momentum in the third quarter of this grand final, Hawkins kicked a goal to keep his Geelong team in the contest. The match see-sawed as a contest until Hawkin’s third goal in the quarter put the Cats up by eight points, and from that point onwards Geelong seized control of the match.

The marks that Hawkins took in the last quarter had the commentators in raptures. “He’s playing out of his skin, Tom Hawkins,” said commentator Anthony Hudson after Hawkins took a strong contested mark in the last quarter.

Just a few minutes later, Hawkins took a one-handed mark while fending off his opponent with his other hand. “Hawkins again, oh this is amazing, who is this man?” Hudson said.

3. Chris Laird (Paddington) – South Melbourne v Collingwood, 1918

Chris Laird has generally been overlooked as a great grand final player due to the passing of time since the 1918 grand final, yet he kicked one of the most important goals in grand final history.

If the VFL had awarded a best on ground medal back in the 1918 grand final then the Sydney recruit would have been in line to take that award.

He kicked the winning goal for the red and whites against Collingwood with just 30 seconds remaining in the match, and was also the equal top goal scorer in the match with three goals to his name.

Without Laird’s final goal, Collingwood would have most likely won this match, so Laird’s influence could not have been more pronounced.

4. Gordon Strang (East Albury) – Richmond v Carlton, 1932

The Sporting Globe’s W.S. “Jumbo” Sharland listed Gordon Strang as Richmond’s best player in the grand final of 1932 as a result of his dominance in marking contests.

This high rating was also backed up by the report in The Age, which wrote “One of the most outstanding was G. Strang, who was unbeatable in the aerial duels, and who pulled down sixteen marks.”

To put this feat in perspective, no one player since the 1990 grand final has taken this many marks in a grand final. For his aerial dominance alone, Strang deserves his spot as one of New South Wale’s best grand final performers.

5. Jarrad McVeigh (Pennant Hills) – Sydney v Hawthorn, 2012

The 2012 AFL grand final is the high point in Australian football history for New South Wales.

For starters, it legitimised the 2005 grand final victory as being more than just a flash in the pan moment. The players recruited from Sydney football clubs such as Kieren Jack and Lewis Roberts-Thomson also had a significant role in the match.

Furthermore, important history was created when Craig Bird became the first player to achieve premiership success after being recruited directly from a mid-northern NSW club (Nelson Bay).

Yet there was one New South Welshmen who, more than any other, led the way in the 2012 grand final – Jarrad McVeigh.

McVeigh accrued 21 disposals, laid nine tackles and, most importantly, kicked two goals. One of those goals was scored while he was matched up against Cyril Rioli and the other, when Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell gave away a 50-metre penalty during the third quarter, became the turning point in the match.

The ultimate team player, McVeigh had as many as 36 pressure acts against the opposition as well. The football purists say one-percenters, pressure acts, tackles and smothers win you football matches.

McVeigh’s performance in the 2012 grand final was one for the football purist.

The other players considered were Brett Kirk (for his role in the 2005 grand final for Sydney), Bert Clay (pictured – the 1944 ruckman for Fitzroy), Lewis Roberts-Thomson (the 2005 and 2012 premiership player from the North Shore), Frank Gumbleton (for his role in the 1975 grand final for North Melbourne) and Leo Barry (2005 premiership defender for Sydney from Deniliquin).

In this case, they fell just outside the top five.

Article, courtesy of Miles Wilks