HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Paul Andrew HASLEBY
|Date of Birth||12th June 1981|
Player 1999 – 2011 (Fremantle 2000-10, East Fremantle 1999, 2007, South Fremantle 2011)
Games 244 (Fremantle 208, East Fremantle 19, South Fremantle 16 WA 1)
Goals 174 (Fremantle 131, East Fremantle 18, South Fremantle 24 WA 1)
Honours: East Fremantle Fairest and Best 1999; All Australian 2003; AFL Rising Star 2000; Ross Glendinning Medal 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009; International Rules Representative 2003;
Fremantle FC Life Member 2007
He may have lacked the lightning speed of Chris Judd and the aerobic capacity of Ben Cousins but for pure football skill – the ability to read the play, win the hard ball and dispose to team advantage - Paul Hasleby was up with the best in the modern era. His innate ability as a ball winning inside midfielder and his mental toughness enabled Hasleby to achieve a rare level of consistency in 10 seasons in the AFL. A disposal average of 21.6 disposals per game compares favourably with the 22.9 achieved by Judd, the 22.6 of Cousins and the 22.8 of Peter Bell and exceeds recognised champions such as Chris Mainwaring, Maurice Rioli and Ben Allan. After a brilliant debut season, Hasleby become just the second West Australian after Cousins to win the AFL Rising Star Award and he was a top five placegetter in Fremantle’s Doig medal in an outstanding 6 of his 10 AFL seasons.
Paul Hasleby was born in Geraldton and grew up playing football in Northampton, 470 kilometers to the north of Perth. Moving to the city to attend secondary school at Mazenod College, he displayed a precocious talent for the Australian game and represented WA in both the Under 16’s and Under 18’s National Championships. Disappointed to miss the 16’s All Australian team and the opportunity to join one of the first AIS camps, he came back to be outstanding in the 1999 Under 18 carnival and won the Larke Medal for best player in Division One. At the beginning of the 1999 season Hasleby had joined East Fremantle and achieved immediate success at WAFL senior level, playing 18 games and winning the Lynn Medal (League Fairest and Best award) despite missing 3 games in mid season whilst at the U18 carnival.
Entering the 1999 National draft as one of the hottest prospects, Hasleby was selected by Fremantle with the second overall selection behind Josh Fraser (Collingwood) and he made his AFL debut in Round 1, 2000. In an extraordinary debut performance against Geelong at Subiaco, Hasleby gathered 16 kicks and 14 handballs and kicked 1 goal 2. His 30 disposals earned him the first nomination for the 2000 Norwich Rising Star award and had his performance being compared with the greatest debuts of the past such as those of Greg Williams and John Coleman. With confidence high he had an outstanding season, playing all but the final game (missed after sustaining a back injury in the Round 21 “demolition derby”) and he was runner up to Troy Cook for the Doig Medal. The back injury unfortunately restricted his pre-season in 2001 and his second year was disappointing, although he still averaged more than 19 possessions a game playing mainly at half forward.
Stung by somewhat unfair criticism he applied himself to a rigorous training and fitness regime and returned to peak form in the midfield in 2002. Averaging more than 22 possessions, he lead the team in hard ball gets and inside 50’s and was fourth in the Doig Medal. This high level was maintained for the following 3 seasons when he did not miss a game and was denied a Doig Medal only by the presence of the outstanding Peter Bell and Matthew Pavlich. In the 2003 season Hasleby was rewarded with All Australian selection and represented Australia in the International Rules series. In both 2003 and 2004 he ranked in the top 10 in the AFL for total disposals (kicks plus handballs).
After a solid 2005 season Hasleby’s tough training program caught up with him, and his 2006 season was restricted by groin problems. This unfortunately coincided with the Dockers best season in which they finished 3rd after the qualifying rounds and had their first win in a final round game. Hasleby was forced to miss both the winning semi and losing preliminary final after undergoing groin surgery. He had a steady 2007 but then suffered a season ending knee injury in Round 1 of the 2008 NAB Cup. A tackle by two opponents resulted in torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments. The full season spent on the sidelines was put to good effect from a learning and preparation perspective and Hasleby came back strongly in 2009 to play every game and finish 5th in the Doig medal. The evolution of the game in the areas of pressure and speed saw Hasleby converted into a goalkicking forward in 2010 but sensing the increased requirement for athleticism, he announced his retirement at the end of the season. In Round 13 against Carlton at Etihad Stadium, he had become just the fourth Fremantle Docker to achieve 200 AFL games.
Paul Hasleby continued to serve Australian Football by playing for South Fremantle in 2011 and at the end of that season he was appointed senior coach of the club after the resignation of John Dimmer. He did not enjoy great success in his 3 seasons in this role winning 20 out of 60 games, but his passion for the game shone through and will likely continue to keep him involved in the game in some capacity.
Paul Hasleby will remain a revered figure at Fremantle Football Club as one of its most highly skilled and consistent players. He was one of their very best ball winners in heavy traffic and a highly skilled handball exponent under pressure as well as being a very good mark for his size. His Round 15, 2005 mark of the week against Western Bulldogs will remain a club favourite. As an All Australian and Rising Star winner and a four time winner of the Glendinning Medal for outstanding performances in Western Derbies, his place in West Australian football history is assured. He joins Ben Allan and Peter Bell as the third Fremantle Football Club member of the WA Football Hall of Fame.