156. Graham Hunnibell

156. Graham Hunnibell

Player Inductee

North Launceston/Melbourne/New Norfolk/Clarence, Ruckman, 1974-91

12 games, 2 goals for Melbourne, 1978-80
Around 90 games for North Launceston 1974-77, 1981
Around 70 games for New Norfolk, 1982-85
Around 100 games for Clarence, 1986-91
New Norfolk captain-coach, 1984-85
Clarence captain-coach, 1986
North Launceston NTFA premierships 1975, 1981
New Norfolk TANFL premiership, 1982
William Leitch Medal, 1985 (TANFL Best and Fairest)
Melbourne reserves Best and Fairest, 1980
North Launceston Best and Fairest 1977, 1981
New Norfolk Best and Fairest 1982, 1984, 1985
Clarence Best and Fairest, 1989
17 representative matches for Tasmania, 1977-1985
Lefroy Medal, 1982 (Best Tasmanian interstate player)
Tasmanian State of Origin Carnival representative 1979 (Perth)
NTFA representative 1974, 1977, 1981
North Launceston ‘Greatest Team’ 1945-1999 (Forward Pocket)
New Norfolk ‘Greatest Team’ 1947-2001 (Ruckman)

One of the most decorated Tasmanian footballers of the past 50 years, Graham ‘Moose’ Hunnibell won almost every award and accolade there was to win in a stellar 16-season career in which he was widely regarded as the premier ruckman in the state.

Born in January 1955, Graham Hunnibell’s senior career began with North Launceston in 1974 at the age of 19. Already a well-proportioned young lad, the young big man impressed right off the bat, gaining NTFA representative honours in his first season and playing in North Launceston’s 1975 premiership in his second. In 1977 he took out the first of what was to be many Best and Fairest awards, and by the end of that season the VFL was circling. It would be Melbourne that landed the young ruckman’s signature, and Hunnibell lined up for his debut for the Demons in Round 7, 1978. Alas, despite Melbourne winning just 16 of their 66 games from 1978-80 Hunnibell was never able to significantly break into the senior team, managing just 12 games in three years. Despite his lack of senior VFL exposure, Hunnibell was still an automatic selection when it came to picking the Tasmanian side for the State of Origin carnival in Perth in 1979. After only two senior appearances for Melbourne in 1980, Hunnibell returned to Tasmania at season’s end, but not before he had taken out Melbourne’s reserves Best and Fairest award – a sign of things to come.

Upon his return to Tasmania Hunnibell ran out for original club North Launceston. His first season back was one to remember, as the 25-year old played in a second Robins premiership, took out his second Best and Fairest award and was runner-up to East Launceston’s Paul Reinmuth in the Hec Smith Medal count. At the end of 1981, Hunnibell was on the move again, heading south to take up a lucrative offer with TANFL side New Norfolk. In his first season he proved to have the Midas Touch once again, taking out New Norfolk’s club champion award, playing a vital role in the Eagles drought-breaking premiership win and sharing (with Sandy Bay’s Tony Martyn) the Lefroy Medal as his state’s best representative player. In 1984 Hunnibell was appointed captain-coach of New Norfolk, leading the club to consecutive finals appearances and winning back-to-back club Best and Fairest awards. After four seasons at Boyer – the last of which saw him dominate the competition to win the William Leitch Medal as TANFL Best and Fairest – Hunnibell made the final move of his career, joining Clarence as captain-coach. This time he only spent one season holding the reigns but spent the following five years plying his trade as effectively and brilliantly as he had since his teenage years. He retired at the end of the 1991 season, but not before taking out yet another Best and Fairest award in 1989 – his seventh in 18 seasons. With this he achieved the phenomenal distinction of winning a Best and Fairest award at every major Tasmanian club.

Hunnibell’s impact on Tasmanian football was enormous, and it therefore came as no surprise when he was named in both North Launceston and New Norfolk’s Greatest Teams in 1999 and 2001 respectively.