You're a legend

TOP CAT: Garry Hocking receives a kiss from wife Melina at Melbourne's Crown Casino before being named as Geelong's 17th official Legend at the club's inaugural Hall of Fame dinner. Photo: GEELONG ADVERTISER  
Saturday, June 22

REVERED Geelong champion Garry Hocking was last night named the Cats' 17th official Legend at the club's inaugural Hall of Fame dinner at Melbourne's Crown Casino.

Known to his legion of fans as ``Buddha'' and famed for his mullet-style haircut, Hocking retired from the AFL at the end of last season having played over 300 AFL matches, including four grand finals and eight Big V guernseys.

Recruited from Cobram, Hocking debuted in 1987 and had a distinguished 274 game career at Geelong, kicking 243 goals and claiming four best and fairests at Kardinia Park.

Last year he was named in Geelong's Team of the Century as a ruck rover.

Geelong president Frank Costa last night welcomed the brilliant ruck rover back as a legend, one of Geelong's favourite sons.

``That record is an outstanding one, however statistics don't reveal the real Garry Hocking,'' he said.

``As well as being highly skilled he was one of the most courageous footballers you would ever want to see,'' Costa told th 450-strong in attendance.

``It is unlikely any record has ever been kept of the number of times he was the last person up from the bottom of a pack of players.

``What we do know is that it was a lot, an awful lot.

``Over the years, we've had been some pretty good players at Geelong, blokes like Gary Ablett, Polly Farmer, Sam Newman, Bobby Davis - legends in every sense.

``Garry is more than qualified to take his place alongside them,'' he said.

Hocking, now an assistant playing coach with VFL side North Ballarat, retired after a season interrupted by chronic knee problems and being told by Geelong it could not guarantee him a contract in 2002.

Hocking was left out of selected sides on three occasions, prompting a much publicised dispute with senior Cats' officials.

But Hocking healed the wound and two months later has been named the 17th legend of the club.

He now joins a list comprised of Bob Davis, Reg Hickey, Bernie Smith, Doug Wade, Gary Ablett, Bill Eason, Alec Eason, Fred Flanagan, Polly Farmer, Carji Greeves, Bill Goggin, Ian Nankervis, John Newman, Cliff Rankin, George Todd and Henry Young in the illustrious legend category.

Geelong also paid tribute to administrator Charles Brownlow, who died in 1924 and after whom the AFL medal is named.