Hawthorn/South Launceston, Ruckman/Defender, 1975-90
> 155 games, 47 goals for Hawthorn, 1976-85
> Around 70 games for South Launceston, 1987-90
> South Launceston coach, 1987-89
> Hawthorn VFL premierships, 1978, 1983
> South Launceston Best and Fairest, 1987, 1988, 1990
> Lefroy Medal for best Tasmanian interstate player, 1987
> Seven representative matches for Tasmania
An agile and skilful ruckman, Ian Paton played in two premierships with the juggernaut Hawthorn sides of the 1970s and 1980s. After returning to Tasmania he turned his hand to coaching while still displaying great prowess as a player.
Born in 1957, Ian Paton had played school football for Scotch Oakburn College in Launceston before being snapped up as an 18-year-old by VFL powerhouse Hawthorn ahead of the 1975 season. After playing Under 19’s and reserves football for the Hawks in 1975, the lanky 193cm youngster made his senior debut for the Hawks in Round 7 of 1976 and appeared in 11 games for the season – including the qualifying final victory over North Melbourne – but was unfortunately left out of the side that would again defeat the Kangaroos for the premiership. After missing out on the grand final in 1977 the Hawks were back in the biggest game of the year in 1978, and this time Paton was there too, starting in a back pocket and forming a potent ruck division with Don Scott and Richard Walter on the day. The Hawks would win their second premiership in three years, defeating North Melbourne by 18 points.
After playing predominantly as a defender during 1979-80, Don Scott’s retirement at the end of 1981 saw Paton assume the mantle of Hawthorn’s number one ruckman. Although by no means the most dominant big man in the game, Paton would nevertheless hold his own against the superstar ruckmen of the day, such as Essendon’s Simon Madden. It would be his battles against Madden in the Hawthorn versus Essendon grand finals of 1984-85 that would produce some of Paton’s most memorable on-field moments. In 1983 he tasted premiership success for the second time as Hawthorn demolished the Bombers by 83 points, while a year later Essendon turned the tables on the Hawks to record a memorable come-from-behind victory. The arrival of Greg Dear and a medial ligament injury restricted Paton to just four senior appearances in 1985, and although he remained at Hawthorn in 1986 and was appointed captain of the reserves team, he was unable to break into the senior side.
In 1987 Paton returned home to Tasmania and was appointed captain-coach of TFL Statewide League side South Launceston. Despite Paton’s outstanding form – he would win the Bulldogs’ Best and Fairest award in 1987, 1988 and 1990 – South struggled to make an impact in the Statewide competition, winning only 13 of the 53 matches they contested during Paton’s three-year tenure. Paton relinquished the role of coach after 1989, spending one final season at South Launceston as a player in 1990 before retiring at the end of the season after more than 200 senior games.