An extensive university study into head injuries and concussion is tipped to potentially search back as far as Hudson and Hawthorn’s famous 1971 premiership victory under legendary coach John Kennedy.
It was the second of Hawthorn’s 10 flags and as much remembered for Hudson missing relatively easy shots for goal and bid to eclipse Bob Pratt’s VFL/AFL record of 150 deep into the thriller, that the Hawks won by seven points after St Kilda led by 20 points at the final break.
AFL folklore considers Hudson famously suffered concussion early into the brutal clash when he copped a viscous whack around his ears early into the title decider from his immediate opponent Kevin ‘Cowboy’ Neale.
Hudson, one of greatest goal-sneaks of all-time, booted three goals and finished the season with 150 majors and equal with Pratt and remains a league record season tally.
The normally deadly accurate Hudson ran into an open goal and kicked out on the full, as well as famously kicked into-the-man on his mark at close range in his unusually wayward final term as the Hawks manufactured an extraordinary come-from-behind victory.
Hudson had been felled and knocked unconscious and bled from his ear early in that grand final, but courageously played out the fiery clash.
A similar incident in the modern-day would most likely force the injured player out of the match under new and strict concussion testing regulations and the offending opponent under severe scrutiny and penalties from the AFL match review process.
The late 1960s and much of the 1970s era is widely considered some of the more brutal for uncompromising physical clash and confrontation with head-high assaults far less penalised and scrutinised than in the game’s more modern and sanitised days.
AFL circles are abuzz with mounting claims of serious ill-effects from head injury suffered by former players.
Champion Carlton and Sydney on-baller and dual Brownlow medallist Greg Williams rekindled the concussion trauma issue this week with confessions he suffered numerous serious head knocks.
Williams, who played 34 games at Geelong, 107 for Carlton and then finished out with 109 for Carlton, won the prestigious Norm Smith Medal as best-afield in the Blues 1995 premiership.
He claimed in a bombshell Fox Sports interview this week that he has little memory of the match.
Another Hawks premiership hero Ian Paton also revealed concussion and related mental health issues following Williams.
Paton, a premiership ruckman with the Hawks in 1978 and ’83 revealed he has been on medication for depression for around 15 years.
Dual West Coast premiership star Dean Kemp joined the rapidly broadening chorus of head traumatised players calling for deeper research and possibly even greater prospects of head protection, especially at junior levels.
The lightly framed 1994 Norm Smith medallist was forced to retire midway through 2001 after 243 senior games and he suffered another of a series of head injuries that prompted short-term memory loss after games.