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by ACS President Ken Piesse

Our annual AFL footy launch, featuring DERMOTT BRERETON, Kelvin Club, April 1, 2022

When North Melbourne follower Darren Harris collided with Dermott Brereton in the 1991 Foster’s Cup night Grand Final, it was the beginning of the end for the most fabulous big match performer of his generation.

‘I was never the same after that. It was the beginning of the end for me,’ Dermott said. ‘It was a marking contest. Darren was a big unit and came from one direction and me from the other. I so injured my hip that from then on I could hardly jump – and that was a big part of my game.’

At the height of his powers, Brereton was proud of his vertical jumping best of 76cm. Suddenly he could jump only 43cm and he was soon to begin the merry-go-round which saw him prematurely finish at Glenferrie and play a season each at Sydney and Collingwood.

The five-day and five-night Hawthorn premiership legend was our guest of honor at our 14th AFL footy launch at the Kelvin Club in April.

Almost 60 attended and revelled in Dermott’s presentation which was typical of the man: totally genuine and authentic.

Enjoying the opportunity to talk to a cricket audience, he told of his love affair with the summer game, which still sees him captaining the Heatherhill CC fourths on summer Saturdays.

As a youngster he played at WJ Dowling level with St Kilda but football was always his game of choice.

‘If I could re write history I would love to open the bowling for Australia,’ he said, ‘but a slinger who bowls at 115 km/h doesn’t quite cut the muster.’

He loves the social element of cricket and every Saturday makes sure his 64-can Esky is full of ice-cold refreshments to suit all.

‘We always like to have a beer with the opposition. It’s one of the fun elements of the game. I play with many of my best mates. Scabs Martin, for example… we’ve known each other since grade 3 in Frankston.’

In his introduction, president Ken Piesse told of a recent Mt Eliza-Heatherhill lower grades game in which he had been batting and having turned a comfortable three into a hard run two, Piesse was still panting for breath when Dermott quipped from point: ‘With all respect Piessey, lads throw to Kenny’s end!’

Brereton told of some highlight moments of his career with an emphasis on the ’89 Grand Final when he was poleaxed at the opening bounce, a payback from Geelong’s Mark Yeates.

Runner George Stone ran on and said ‘Yabbie (coach Allan Jeans) wants you off’.

Brereton refused and instead limped down to the forward pocket where minutes later he took a mark and kicked an important early goal.

Stone appeared again. ‘Yab says stay on!’

Yeates broke two of Brereton’s ribs and split his kidney. At half time he began to urinate blood. ‘How are you feeling?’ Hawthorn’s club doctor asked.

‘I think I can keep going.’


Brereton stayed on, kicked three goals in Hawthorn’s epic six-point victory in what a last man standing affair

He said Jeans’ speech just before the players went out again was high-powered, emotional and endangered his own health.

‘He’d almost died on the operating table 12 months earlier. He told us if we didn’t pay the price, now (in the second half) we would always regret it. He recognised we were running out of steam.’

He regarded Jeans as a second father, always approachable and with wise advice without ever being overbearing. He helped me lift more than I even thought possible.’

We all laughed when Brownlow Medallist Robert DiPierdomenico wanted to use a lace-up jumper as part of a personal sponsorship.

‘Fine by me,’ said Jeans, ‘But you’d better go and ask (reserves coach) Des Meagher!’

Dipper took the hint, kept his old jumper – and stayed in the ones.

Known for his skill, flair, charisma and courage, Brereton was among the first footballers to command a six-figure salary, when the game was only semi-professional. 

On debut for the Hawks, he kicked five goals aged 18 in a semi-final, coach Allan Jeans preferring him not to be interviewed: ‘The Kid is just a kid,’ he told Darryl Timms from Truth.

Brereton played 211 League games with three clubs and represented Victoria nine times. He now is one of the foremost media authorities in the game, having first been mentored by Ernie Sigley at Channel Nine while he was still playing.

Brereton answered a host of questions from the floor and posed for photos and signed menus and a special memorabilia piece we marketed on the day. We loved having him. We finished well after 3 pm; a great time being had my all.

·      For those who would like a signed Dermie menu, they are $5 each, including post, from Wayne Ross. His phone number is 0416 983 888.

Ken Piesse