MICHAEL TUCK was recruited from Berwick ( Victoria) by the Hawthorn Hawks in 1972 , and played 50 Games in the Hawks Reserves Team before consolidating a regular position in the Senior side. It is remarkable to realise that Tuck went on to play an all-time Senior Games Played Record for the VFL/AFL, with 426 Games, kicking 320 Goals for the Hawks over 20 Seasons, until his retirement as a player in 1991. Tuck desired to play on, as he felt he could still contribute strongly to the Hawks, however the Club saw fit to end the Champions career at that time. He has proven to be the most durable Australian Football Player in history and many of his AFL trading cards, and those of many of his Hawks team-mates are available at qualityafltradingcards.com.
Tuck had early success as a Full Forward in the Reserves, but Coaches soon decided that his light, wiry frame would not stand up to the buffeting of bigger, stronger opposition defenders at Senior level. The Hawks tried Tuck as a wingman and defender until, in 1974, the masterstroke of selecting him as a ruck-rover enabled him to cement the superb role he played for most of his career. Coaching Legend, John Kennedy Senior, had observed that Tuck was very strong for his body weight, possessed exemplary ball skills , both by hand and foot, and displayed incredible endurance, to run all day. His on-ball contibution with fellow Hawks AFL Hall of Famer, Leigh Matthews, was integral to the highly successful era enjoyed by Hawthorn through his career.
Michael Tuck was exceptionally fit and missed very few games through injury: his play seemed to go unheralded for a number of seasons, possibly due to his no-nonsense, clean and smooth gathering and delivery of disposals. This description is contrary to Tuck’s physical appearance, as his frame appeared to be chiselled from the finest grade of timber, with the perpetual wearing of a long-sleeved guernsey, and his gaunt facial features often swathed in a bushranger’s beard. Tuck was deceptively quick throughout his career , and his dash accompanied long and penetrating kicks to his teams advantage. Tuck played in 7 successive Grand Finals from 1983 to 1989, and his switch to a running Half-Back Flankers role from 1988 was a resounding success.
Michael Tuck accumulated an impressive list of career achievements at the Hawthorn Hawks, including:- Runner-up in the Hawthorn Hawks Best and Fairest Player Award on 6 occasions, Hawthorn Club Captain from 1986 to 1991, Hawthorn Premiership Player in 1976, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1991, selection in the Hawthorn Hawks Team of the Century, selected in the Victorian State Team on 11 occasions ( one as Captain ), selected as an All Australian in 1979 and 1983, inaugural inductee to the Australian Football League Hall of Fame in 1996. Other honours include naming of a Grandstand at Glenferrie Oval ( the spiritual home of the Hawks ), and since 1992, the Best Player in the AFL pre-season Grand Final has been awarded the Michael Tuck Medal.
Michael Tuck also holds a number of VFL/AFL Games Records which should never be broken, which inlude Most Senior Games- 426, Most Premiership Wins- 7, Most Grand Finals Played- 11, Most Finals Games- 39. His wondrous deeds are immortalised in History, and it is a credit to his sons Shane ( Richmond ), Travis ( Hawthorn ), to have made the Senior AFL Level, with their fathers performances being extremely difficult to follow.
Tuck will always be remembered as the consumate Team Player, scrupulously fair on the field, and generally a quiet and humble personality. He returned to his Plumbing Trade on completion of his playing career, and appeared to have adopted a self-imposed hibernation from the AFL, until his sons made the grade. Any budding AFL player could benefit greatly by applying the grit, determination and courage that so epitomised Michael Tuck.
( Image courtesy of anyclip.com ).