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Hawthorn's pocket rockets

Pocket Rocket - Leigh Matthews Part 1 The Hawthorn legend Leigh Matthews chats about his playing and coaching career in part one of this Open Mike episode.

Standing at just 176cm, new Hawk Dylan Moore was often told throughout his junior days that he was too small for the game. Perhaps that’s why the touted top 20 draftee slipped through the draft to allow the Hawks to nab a bargain with Pick 67. But, he’s not the first ‘small’ player to arrive at our club, and he sure won’t be the last. In fact, there are six players on the 2018 list who stand below the 180cm mark, including premiership players Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo.

Let’s take a look at some of Hawthorn’s best pocket rockets from over the years...

Roy Simmonds

Earning a place on the interchange of Hawthorn’s Team of the Century, Roy Simmonds was a star for the Hawks throughout the 1950s. 175cm tall, or five-foot nine in the old, Simmonds played 192 games for the club and won the best and fairest award in 1956. Known for his durability and courageousness in spite of his size, Simmonds was a reliable player in the variety of positions he filled in his time in the brown and gold.

Col Austen  

The first Hawthorn player to win a Brownlow Medal, Col Austen began somewhat of a trend at the club with three of the five Hawks to have won the award standing at 175cm tall or shorter. At 175cm himself, Austen played 85 games across seven seasons at Glenferrie Oval. He won his Brownlow and club best and fairest in his final year at the club, 1949. Austen was known as a rugged defender who prided his game on rarely losing a contest.
 

Shane Crawford

Despite having a larger-than-life personality, Shane Crawford’s physique amounted to just 174cm high. The popular Brownlow Medallist was a member of Hawthorn’s 2008 premiership side, where he was the shortest player to receive a medallion that day. Having played 305 games throughout his career, Crawford is the shortest Hawk to have reached the 300-game milestone. ‘Crawf’ offset the detriment of his shorter stature with his elite endurance running, high skill level and ability to accumulate large numbers of possessions.

 

Peter Crimmins

Peter Crimmins represented the epitome of the concept that “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. The 173cm Crimmins was as courageous as they came over his 176-game, 231-goal career for the Hawks. A member of the 1971 premiership side, Crimmins was tragically restricted to a hospital bed for the 1976 win although players were left with the instruction from legendary coach John Kennedy to “do it for the little fella”. One of the most admired players in the club’s history, the Crimmins name has now been immortalised with the club best and fairest being named in his honour.
 

John Platten

The third Hawthorn Brownlow Medallist to stand at below five-foot nine, John Platten (170cm) is the second shortest Hawk to have played 200 games (behind Ted Pool - 165cm). Affectionately nicknamed ‘The Rat’ with his diminutive frame and wild mop of frizzy hair, the South Australian native played at Hawthorn for 13 years, winning four VFL/AFL premierships, the 1987 Brownlow Medal and two Peter Crimmins Medals in that time.

Leigh Matthews  

His 178cm stature did nothing to quell Leigh Matthews’ dominance on the game. Arguably the greatest player of all time, ‘Lethal’ used his shorter stature to his favour with his power in the contest. Despite being less than six-foot tall, Matthews is regarded as one of the most intimidating figures that the game has ever seen given his toughness and recklessness at the ball. Named in the forward pocket of the AFL Team of the Century and kicking 915 career goals, the second-most in Hawthorn history, Matthews had the ability to cause havoc both in the forward line and midfield.  

Paul Puopolo 

The smallest of Hawthorn's current crop, Puopolo stands at a modest 173cm. He's another who gives meaning to the "size of the fight in the dog" saying, having shown he can match it with players who stand feet above him through his fierce forward defensive pressure and relentless intent for the contest. Three premierships later, and we don't think 'Poppy' really cares what the number on the measuring tape reads.

 

Hawthorn players under 180cm tall

Taylor Duryea 179cm

Jarman Impey 178cm

Cyril Rioli 177cm

Dylan Moore 176cm

Kieran Lovell 174cm

Paul Puopolo 173cm

 

 

 

 

 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs