Hall of fame honour for Hasleby

Nigel Routledge and Greg Wardell-JohnsonGeraldton Guardian
WA Football Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Stan Nowotny (Swan Districts), Paul Hasleby (Fremantle Dockers), Tom Grljusick (Soth Fremantle) and John Wynne (West Perth).
Camera IconWA Football Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Stan Nowotny (Swan Districts), Paul Hasleby (Fremantle Dockers), Tom Grljusick (Soth Fremantle) and John Wynne (West Perth). Credit: Bill Hatto

Fremantle 200-gamer and current Northampton forward Paul Hasleby will tonight be inducted into the WA Football Hall of Fame.

Hasleby will be one of eight inductees to be presented with the honour at the State Reception Centre, joining Syd Jackson, Con Regan, Kevin Clune, Oliver Drake- Brockman, Tom Grljusich, John Wynne and Stan Nowotny.

Below is a career overview of the champion Docker by WA football historian Greg Wardell-Johnson:

“He may have lacked the lightning speed of Chris Judd and the aerobic capacity of Ben Cousins, but for pure football skill — the ability to read the play, win the hard ball and dispose to team advantage — Hasleby was up with the best in the modern era.”

“His innate ability as a ball-winning inside midfielder and his mental toughness enabled Hasleby to achieve a rare level of consistency in 10 seasons in the AFL.

“An average of 21.6 disposals per game compares favourably with the 22.9 achieved by Judd, the 22.6 of Cousins and the 22.8 of Peter Bell and exceeds recognised champions such as Chris Mainwaring, Maurice Rioli and Ben Allan.

“After a brilliant debut season, Hasleby became just the second West Australian after Cousins to win the AFL Rising Star Award and he was a top-five placegetter in Fremantle’s Doig Medal in an outstanding six of his 10 AFL seasons.

“Paul Hasleby was born in Geraldton and grew up playing football in Northampton.

“Moving to the city to attend secondary school at Mazenod College, he displayed a precocious talent for the Australian game and represented WA in both the Under-16s and Under-18s National Championships.

“Disappointed to miss the 16s All-Australian team and the opportunity to join one of the first AIS camps, he came back to be outstanding in the 1999 Under-18 carnival and won the Larke Medal for best player in division 1.

“At the beginning of the 1999 season, Hasleby had joined East Fremantle and achieved immediate success at WAFL senior level, playing 18 games and winning the Lynn Medal, despite missing three games in mid-season while at the U18 carnival.

“Entering the 1999 national draft as one of the hottest prospects, Hasleby was selected by Fremantle with the second overall selection behind Josh Fraser (Collingwood) and he made his AFL debut in round 1, 2000.

“In an extraordinary debut performance against Geelong at Subiaco, Hasleby gathered 16 kicks and 14 handballs and kicked one goal and two points.

“His 30 disposals earned him the first nomination for the 2000 Norwich Rising Star award and had his performance being compared with the greatest debuts of the past, such as those of Greg Williams and John Coleman.

“With confidence high he had an outstanding season, playing all but the final game (missed after sustaining a back injury in the round 21 “demolition derby”) and he was runner-up to Troy Cook for the Doig Medal.

“The back injury unfortunately restricted his pre-season in 2001 and his second year was disappointing, although he still averaged more than 19 possessions a game, mainly at half forward.

“Stung by somewhat unfair criticism, he applied himself to a rigorous training and fitness regime and returned to peak form in the midfield in 2002.

“Averaging more than 22 possessions, he led the team in hard ball-gets and inside-50s and was fourth in the Doig Medal.

“This high level was maintained for the following three seasons when he did not miss a game and was denied a Doig Medal only by the presence of the outstanding Peter Bell and Matthew Pavlich.

“In the 2003 season Hasleby was rewarded with All-Australian selection and represented Australia in the international rules series.

“In both 2003 and 2004 he ranked in the top 10 in the AFL for total disposals (kicks plus handballs).

“After a solid 2005 season, Hasleby’s tough training program caught up with him, and his 2006 season was restricted by groin problems.

“This coincided with the Dockers’ best season in which they finished third after the qualifying rounds and had their first win in a final round game.

“Hasleby was forced to miss both the winning semifinal and losing preliminary final after undergoing groin surgery.

“He had a steady 2007 but then suffered a season-ending knee injury in round 1 of the 2008 NAB Cup.

“A tackle by two opponents resulted in torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.

“The full season spent on the sidelines was put to good effect from a learning and preparation perspective and Hasleby came back strongly in 2009 to play every game and finish fifth in the Doig Medal.

“The evolution of the game in the areas of pressure and speed saw Hasleby converted into a goalkicking forward in 2010, but sensing the increased requirement for athleticism, he announced his retirement at the end of the season.

“In round 13 against Carlton at Etihad Stadium, he had become only the fourth Fremantle Docker to play 200 AFL games.

“Paul Hasleby continued to serve Australian football by playing for South Fremantle in 2011 and at the end of that season he was appointed senior coach of the club.

“He did not enjoy great success in his three seasons in this role, winning 20 out of 60 games, but his passion for the game shone through and will probably continue to keep him involved in the game in some capacity.

“Paul Hasleby will remain a revered figure at Fremantle Football Club as one of its most highly skilled and consistent players.

“He was one of their very best ball-winners in heavy traffic and a highly skilled handball exponent under pressure as well as being a very good mark for his size.

“His round 15, 2005, mark of the week against Western Bulldogs will remain a club favourite.

“As an All-Australian and Rising Star winner and a four time winner of the Glendinning Medal for outstanding performances in Western Derbies, his place in WA football history is assured.”

He joins Ben Allan and Bell as the third Fremantle Football Club member in the WA Football Hall of Fame. Indeed, a very worthy recipient.

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