It’s been a big week for Melbourne champion and AFL Hall of Fame member Harold ‘Hassa’ Mann.
On Thursday night he attended the Hall of Fame dinner and caught up with great mates. On Sunday he gathered with old mates at a 1964 premiership reunion.
And on Monday he’ll be at the MCG, as a guest of the MCC, cheering on his beloved Dees against arch-rival Collingwood.
We caught up with him in the midst of all these engagements to discuss a famous footy life.
In 1958 Hassa had three financial offers to join VFL clubs – a Holden car from Richmond, a Ford by Geelong or a pair of footy boots from Melbourne. He chose the boots, especially crafted numbers that catered for his wide feet, and played in premierships in his first two seasons with the Demons before adding a third in 1964.
He was later vice-captain of the Demons when Ron Barassi departed for Carlton and skipper of the club when the unthinkable happened – the Demons sacked the great Norm Smith.
“Norm Smith would have been a wonderful coach in any era because he good get the best out of ordinary players” Hassa said.
“He was always honest, very strong on discipline and when he was sacked mid-season in 1965, before being re-instated, the club took a very long time to recover.”
Smith’s success revolved around great players and the modest Hassa ranks among the best from the Demons’ glory years from 1955-1964.
He was a regular Victorian representative in the days when just two players were chosen from each club.
He was a star, and later the club’s assistant coach, CEO, and remains a loyal supporter.
“I guess you could say I have done it all for the club but the club has done a lot me for me.”
Other VIDEOS in our Legends series
DAVID PARKIN – The four-time premiership coach reflects on the good old days of footy, and the current state of the game.
BRAD BOYD – The last captain of Fitzroy talks about his early days at Fitzroy, the merger with Brisbane and leaving the game at just 27 years of age.
LUKE ABLETT – The Sydney Swans premiership player shares a unique insight into the difficulties modern footballers face, and what he was thinking during ‘that moment’ in the 2005 grand final.
DAVID ‘SWAN’ MCKAY – The four-time Carlton premiership player relives the Blues’ glory days during the 1970s and reveals what it was like playing under Ron Barassi.
WAYNE CAREY – The man regarded as the greatest centre half forward of all time talks captaincy, courage, and how he didn’t handle the end of his AFL career.
RUSSELL GREENE – One of the stars of Hawthorn’s finest era reflects back on his fine 304-game career, and some of the difficulties he faced when it all came to an end.