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    Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest football a

    Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest football achievement



    He was one of Footscray’s favourite sons, but Doug Hawkins endured the pain of two AFL sackings, a knee injury that took him to the brink, and some remarkable lows. In this unmissable Sacked, the vaudeville act is gone. This is the real Dougie.

    The writing was on the wall at the Western Oval leading into the 1994 season, but Doug Hawkins didn’t want to read the signs.

    Just a few months before his 34th birthday, the Footscray champion was asked to take a pay cut by president Peter Gordon – a request he saw as an insult given he had been the face of the club for years and how close he was to breaking Ted Whitten’s club record of 321 games.

    “I had troubles with my contractual agreement at the start of ‘94,” Hawkins told the Herald Sun’s Sacked podcast.

    “The president was Peter Gordon … he wasn’t very happy about (Hawkins’ reluctance).

    “He said: ‘Hawk, you have to take a pay cut. I said, ‘I don’t want to take a pay cut … I deserve what I deserve’.

    “We ended up settling. I got what I wanted … then I got sacked as captain.”

    Hawkins was replaced as skipper – a role he had carried since 1990 – leading into the ’94 season, with Scott Wynd taking over.

    “That didn’t worry me,” he said. “I was (almost) 34 and coming into my 17th season and Scotty Wynd was a grouse player.”

    Then two rounds into the season, his coach – and strong supporter – Terry Wheeler was sacked, leaving Hawkins more vulnerable.

    “I felt like just retiring. I thought, ‘Are you fair dinkum, sacking Terry Wheeler for losing a game at Geelong?’” he said. “Teddy Whitten played for 20 seasons and never won at Geelong.”

    Wheeler’s replacement, two-time Hawthorn premiership coach Alan Joyce, wasn’t as supportive.

    “Alan Joyce came from nowhere,” he said. “I was surprised … he coached Hawthorn to a couple of flags, didn‘t he?” Hawkins said.

    “But they (Hawthorn) had a pretty good side. I reckon I could have coached them. They almost coached themselves (in 1988), they were that good.

    “Humphrey Bear could have coached them.

    “I am not having a go at Alan Joyce for his Hawthorn stuff, but when he took over as coach of Footscray, he made it very tough for Dougie Hawkins.”

    I DIDN’T SEE IT COMING’

    Hawkins broke Whitten’s games record against Geelong in Round 17, 1994, collecting a Brownlow Medal vote.

    By that time, he was getting limited game time, mostly playing off the bench.

    He suffered a torn groin in the final round against West Coast at Subiaco, which meant he missed the finals.

    Hawkins walked into a post-season meeting believing he was about to sign a one-year contract extension.

    “I thought I had at least 12 more months to play (in 1995) and I got a rude shock,” he recounted.

    “I didn’t see it coming.

    “I was in the room with three blokes – (football manager) Garry O’Sullivan, (chief executive) Dennis Galimberti and Alan Joyce.

    “Joycey said, ‘Listen, you are at the stage of your career where I think your time could be up’.”

    Hawkins was asked to retire.

    “There is no way Doug Hawkins would quit or retire, going out on that note, with my last game being at Subiaco,” he said defiantly, 26 years on.

    Joyce would later say he wasn’t behind Hawkins’ sacking.

    “So who did (sack me)?” Hawkins questioned.

    “Peter Gordon wasn’t in the room. He probably should have been here to tell the games record holder that his time was up.”

    To this day, Hawkins doesn’t have the answer to the question still gnawing away at him.

    Who really sacked him and why?

    ‘WHERE DO I SIGN?’

    An out-of-the-blue offer from Fitzroy pricked Hawkins’ interest.

    The Lions wanted him to help nurture the club’s young players. When he was told Bernie Quinlan would be coach, he agreed to sign on.

    “I love Bernie, fantastic player, great bloke. He had a group of guys and I thought he might need a Dougie Hawkins to help these young boys, even at the age of 35.

    “I wanted to prove a lot of people wrong who thought I was finished.

    “I ended up playing 21 games (in 1995), had 342 possessions, got six Brownlow votes, got votes against West Coast and Geelong who had played off in the Grand Final in 1994.

    “I proved those people wrong … simple as that.”

    But Quinlan’s sacking after 19 games impacted on Hawkins’ desire to play another season.

    At the end of the season, the Lions appointed dual North Adelaide premiership coach Mick Nunan to lead the club.

    “My form was good enough to go again, but Mick Nunan said I didn’t fit into his three-year plan,” he laughed.

    “I said, ‘Mick, If I did, I would be 39 by the end of it’.”

    Hawkins‘ decorated career was over after 329 games with Footscray and 21 with Fitzroy – 350 overall.

    Nunan resigned as coach after 14 games, with only one win. The club was in its final death throes and was forced into a merger by the end of 1996.

    YELLOW GEMINI

    Hawkins once compared Chris Grant to a Rolls Royce, but the man himself started out at Footscray in a yellow Gemini.

    Having played with Whitten’s junior club, Braybrook, Hawkins grew up with his mother, stepfather and his sister Vicky, graduating from a caravan to a bungalow to a housing commission flat in the school of hard knocks.

    “You had to walk before you crawled, because if you crawled they would squash you,” he explained.

    He was zoned to the Bulldogs but was keen to play for South Melbourne after the Swans approached him. Thankfully, the Bulldogs refused a clearance.

    A yellow Gemini was part of his deal to join the Dogs.

    “My manager at the time, which was my mum, organised it,” he said. ”I said, ‘Mum, how about a Monaro?’

    “I blew it up in six months. It was only a four-cylinder and I drove it like it was an eight.

    “I got rid of it and got a Sandman Panel Van … on the back, it said, ‘If this van is rocking, don’t come knocking.’”

    Hawkins debuted in Round 1, 1978, playing on childhood idol Keith Greig and it wasn’t long before he was one of the Bulldogs’ stars.


    A young Doug Hawkins (right) is ready to play with the Bulldogs in 1978 alongside his Braybrook teammate Robert Groenewegen

    ALMOST A BOMBER

    Hawkins was dating the daughter of an Essendonian coterie group member at the end of 1982.

    Kevin Sheedy met him on a few occasions about a possible move.

    “Can you believe I actually said ‘no’,” Hawkins recalled. “If I had gone, I could have played in five Grand Finals and been a three-time premiership player.

    “Imagine running around with the Watsons, the Maddens, the Danihers, the Vander Haars!”

    Hawkins missed the chance of playing in the 1984, ’85 and 1993 flags.

    “Footy is all about playing in Grand Finals; it’s not playing 300 games and breaking Teddy Whitten’s record, that’s individual stuff,” he said.

    “But there was one word, loyalty, and I loved my club, I loved the jumper, I loved my brothers, and Dougie Hawkins stays a Bulldog.”

    BIZARRE B&FS

    Hawkins won the Bulldogs’ 1984 best and fairest … for a few moments before handing it back.

    In Footscray’s version of the Oscars’ 2017 debacle, the wingman was erroneously declared the winner at the club’s social club function.

    “I got announced as the winner … remember Kevin Hillier, he was with 3XY back in those days. He got me up on stage … and I got up to accept the Charlie Sutton Medal. Then Shane O‘Sullivan said, ‘There’s been a mistake in the last round’,” Hawkins said.

    “They were doing the votes on butcher’s paper up on the stage. Instead of giving (ruckman) Andrew Purser one (in the last round), they gave him three and I got beaten by one vote.”

    A year later, Hawkins finally won the medal he deserved, winning the 1985 best and fairest after a stunning season where he almost helped the club push through to the Grand Final.

    “(Coach) Mick Malthouse changed the culture of the Footscray Football Club,” he said.

    They lost in the preliminary final to Hawthorn by 10 points.

    Essendon smashed the Hawks a week later, but Hawkins believes his team would have fared better.

    “I think we matched up very well and Kevin Sheedy to this day … he really felt we were a danger.”

    The aftermath of the 1989 B&F provided another bombshell. After Hawkins finished runner-up to Terry Wallace, Galimberti came up to him at a city nightspot.

    “ (Galimberti) said, ‘I’ve got some bad news … tomorrow you are going to be reading in the papers that the club will no longer be able to go on’,” he said.

    “That’s how the (proposed Fitzroy-Footscray merger) was broken. It was a pretty ordinary night.”

    But people power won out and the Bulldogs were saved.

    Hawkins couldn’t have been happier, even though he knows the merged team would have been super competitive.

    ‘IT COULD HAVE BEEN ALL OVER’

    Hawkins was almost unstoppable at his peak … until Round 17, 1986.

    On that day against Collingwood, he suffered a serious knee injury which put his career in jeopardy and took him to the brink.

    “My anterior cruciate was gone, my posterior cruciate was already gone in my right leg back in 1980, my lateral ligament was just hanging, my medial ligament was just hanging, my cartilage was absolutely ripped apart,” he said.

    “(Surgeon) David Young described it to me as a road accident victim, that’s how bad it was. I had a Gore-Tex fibre put into my anterior cruciate. It’s still there.”

    Hawkins was told his career could be over at 26.

    “I lost my job as a truck driver … my fiancee left me because I was off tap.”

    “I love a beer. That was my escape back then.

    “Garry O’Sullivan spent two weeks living with me, to try and settle me down. He was like my minder, and let me tell you, he had trouble minding me.

    “He would say, ‘Gee, Hawk went to bed, but he was not there this morning when I woke up.’

    “He ended up going into the club and said, ‘I’m not minding this bloke any longer’.”

    Asked what would have happened if his career had been over, Hawkins said: “I wouldn’t be talking to you blokes, it could have been all over.”

    He turned his life around, was back playing seniors by Round 11, 1987, and met Raelene, who would become his wife and mother of his three children.

    “If I didn’t get back to footy, and if I didn’t meet Raelene, I may not be talking to you today.”

    MISSING TED’S FAREWELL

    One of Hawkins’ biggest regrets came on the weekend of the Victoria-South Australia clash in 1995 when he travelled with his family to Rich River Resort in Moama.

    “Young Teddy (Whitten) told him his dad (Ted Sr) was too sick to go to the state game,” he said.

    “I wasn’t playing so I grabbed Raelene and the kids and went to Rich River. I walked into the room and turned the TV on and Ted was doing a lap before the game.”

    “I was standing there crying. Raelene said, ‘What’s wrong?’ I said, ‘Ted has made the effort and gone to the game … I should be there’.”

    Whitten, 62, died two months later from prostate cancer.


    Ted Whitten and Doug Hawkins on the eve of Hawkins breaking Ted's game record of 321 games with the Bulldogs in 1994.

    “One of my biggest regrets is not going to see him when he was really crook. I wanted to remember him for that handshake … I should have gone to see Teddy and I should have been at the ground that day.”

    “It was the most emotional thing I’ve ever seen. I have watched it many times.”

    Hawkins was one of the stars of The Footy Show – a television juggernaut – even if he became stereotyped as the class clown before moving to Channel 7 to co-host the short-lived Live And Kicking.

    “It was a s--- show,” he said of Live and Kicking.

    Hawkins’ role in the media came to an end, but he has worked in traffic management – with Phoenix Traffic – for almost a decade, and he loves it.

    There was a short-lived political push when he stood as a Victorian Senate candidate for the Palmer United Party in 2013.

    He took a phone call from someone claiming to be Clive Palmer, but thought it was good mate Russell Gilbert “taking the p---”

    “I said, ‘Who’s this?’ and he said ‘Clive Palmer’. I said to him, ‘Are you the cousin of Chicken (Palmer)?”

    “I was going to be a politician. What was I thinking? I didn’t get many votes.”

    GREATEST SPORTING MOMENT

    His wife Raelene compiled a book of messages from those closest to Hawkins for his 60th birthday spent in lockdown in May.

    Many of the messages made him cry, including those written by members of the under-16 Bacchus Marsh premiership team he coached in 2011.

    Tragically, one of his players – 17-year-old Nathan Prince – died 11 days after suffering from a cardiac arrest following a collision during an earlier final.

    “These boys lost a brother and a teammate … and these boys went on to win a premiership,” he said.

    “To have the funeral on the Tuesday of Grand Final week, to win the game, and after the Grand Final to go back to the cemetery (to sing the theme song) where Nathan was buried … was so emotional.

    “That’s the greatest achievement of my football career – by a mile. That beats breaking Ted’s record, that beats my first game, that beats everything.”

  2. Thanks bornadog, Scraggers, Eastdog, Mofra thanked for this post
  3. #2
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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Never knew Dougie spoke in the third person so much. One of my favourites to watch.

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldog4life View Post
    Never knew Dougie spoke in the third person so much. One of my favourites to watch.
    Very American.

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldog4life View Post
    Never knew Dougie spoke in the third person so much. One of my favourites to watch.
    BORDERLINE FLYING

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket Science View Post
    It was supposed to be the summer of Hawk!....

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Some amusing gold in there even if it reads like Dougie's just knocked the top off every zinger from his Sportman's Night back catalogue.

    Humphrey Bear!

    Ouch!
    BORDERLINE FLYING

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Apparently the "guests" on the podcast do not get paid.

    Wonder what the motivation is, in doing it?
    #BeMoreBulldog

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Does any else get the feeling the club under Ameet and Peter want to distance themselves a little from the larrikin battler Footscray past? We really present as a very professional organisation nowadays; I think we've somewhat shed that "scraggers" moniker of yesteryear and maybe Doug epitomises this a little too much for their liking?

    In my time watching the Dogs (1980 - now) there's only been three players I have been in awe of. Hawkins, Grant and Bontempelli. That's the on field company he keeps for me.

    Hope they can find a middle ground and get Doug around the club more.

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    This is from the 90s it’s water under the bridge many moons ago .
    He was giving his story from way back then.
    There is no problem now.
    Bring back the biff

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Quote Originally Posted by Grantysghost View Post
    Does any else get the feeling the club under Ameet and Peter want to distance themselves a little from the larrikin battler Footscray past? We really present as a very professional organisation nowadays; I think we've somewhat shed that "scraggers" moniker of yesteryear and maybe Doug epitomises this a little too much for their liking?

    In my time watching the Dogs (1980 - now) there's only been three players I have been in awe of. Hawkins, Grant and Bontempelli. That's the on field company he keeps for me.

    Hope they can find a middle ground and get Doug around the club more.
    Are you telling me I have to change my name????
    WOOF Member 422

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    One of my fondest memories is being at the Western Oval (Whitten Oval) on October 2nd 2016 and seeing Dougie there with tears in his eyes, so proud of the boys and the club. He bleeds Red, White and Blue still.
    WOOF Member 422

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Quote Originally Posted by Scraggers View Post
    Are you telling me I have to change my name????
    I’ll tried to change my username and it didn’t come off as well in the WOOF community. I will be always Eastdog on WOOF So I would stay with Scraggers. Very hard to shrug off the original username you started with except for a few exceptions.
    Last edited by Eastdog; 17-09-2020 at 08:43 PM.
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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Quote Originally Posted by Scraggers View Post
    Are you telling me I have to change my name????

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Quote Originally Posted by Scraggers View Post
    Are you telling me I have to change my name????
    You're alright. I've got it tattooed on my shoulder!
    Bright eyed and bushy tailed at least for another hour

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    Re: Sacked: Doug Hawkins opens up on his sacking from the Dogs, joining the Lions, injuries and his greatest footba

    Quote Originally Posted by Scraggers View Post
    One of my fondest memories is being at the Western Oval (Whitten Oval) on October 2nd 2016 and seeing Dougie there with tears in his eyes, so proud of the boys and the club. He bleeds Red, White and Blue still.
    Yeah I recall seeing Doug on that day. It was just an amazing day overall.

    I took the train in from the eastern suburbs and the train had a lot of happy Bulldogs supporters. At Flinders Street station I remember the announcer saying for the Whitten Oval take the next train

    On my way back home I took a bus from West Footscray due to the Sunbury train line being out of action because of a tree branch I believe that fell on the tracks - it was a sunny day but very windy and the bus I got went to North Melbourne Station then I got the train to Spencer or Flinders cant remember to get my train home.
    Last edited by Eastdog; 18-09-2020 at 09:57 AM.
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