I haven’t done a Compare the Pair article since July, so I thought I’d mix it up and do an AFL pairing for the triumphant return. It’s somewhat harder to compare two players who both wore the famous #9 for the great Hawthorn Hawks, considering they played in different eras. While they are different there are definitely ways to compare the duo and the incredible impact that their legacies left on the game.
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ALL THE NUMBERS
CRAWFORD – 305 games, 224 goals, 159 Brownlow votes, 22.39 disposals per game
DIPIERDOMENICO – 240 games, 130 goals, 63 Brownlow votes, 18.81 disposals per game
DIPPER struggled to find his feet in his first few seasons of football. He played close to 100 games in the reserves that impacted some of his stats. His disposals per game and his goal tally were also lower due to him playing on the half-back flank and wing. If it hadn’t been for the start of his career and the copious games he missed through suspension, then hell, even the career Brownlow tally for Dipper would have been higher. But it isn’t
Edge: Crawford. Just
Image from portrait.gov.au
THIS one in easy to find the answer to. Crawford got the fairytale finish bowing out with a premiership medallion in his final game. On the other hand, DiPierdomenico won five day and five-night premierships with Hawthorn in one of the most dominant periods we have seen by any team in the history of football. A 7-5 record for Crawf and 17-7 record for Dipper in finals may show that the latter had the better team, but he still deserves credit for his part in those powerful teams.
CRAWFORD – 2008 Grand Final
NO one in the history of the AFL has played more games than Crawford did before winning his maiden premiership. In one of the most stirring finals of the past generation, he helped lead an inspired Hawks team to a victory over the juggernaut Geelong that had claimed a premiership the year before and lost just once in all of 2008 before the big dance. In a wave of emotion and probably relief, Crawford accepted his premiership medal in one of the most famous podium moments and ran off into the sunset.
DIPIERDOMENICO – 1989 Grand Final
IN perhaps the greatest grand final ever played Dipper was perhaps the most courageous player on the field. Late in the first quarter, DiPierdomenico suffered a few broken ribs and a punctured lung but despite the injury, he played on and was an enormous factor in the outcome of the game. He had the third most touches for his team and was at his bullocking best for the remainder of the game which led to Hawthorn claiming the premiership.
IN a SportsbyFry first I honestly can’t split the two of them. There is no better way to end your career with a flag, let alone your first and by doing so Crawford retired as one of the greatest modern day midfielders. For Dipper to do what he did with broken ribs and a punctured lung is the stuff of folklore. If Ablett didn’t bag nine goals then he probably would have won the medal.
BOTH guys own a Brownlow medal, both guys made multiple teams of the year and both guys are in the Hall of Fame. On paper under that regard, it’s tough to split both Dipper and Crawf, but there is one factor that plays into one player’s hands. Not once during his 240 game career did Dipper win a club best and fairest. Crawford, on the other hand, won four. There is no doubt that Dipper had better star teammates, but none of them (with the exception of Platten) claimed a Brownlow. Advantage Shane.
AS one of the greatest Italian-Australian footballers to ever play AFL, Dipper’s natural aggressive instinct was one that most modern day fans still marvel at. Off the field, though he was a soft-spoken loveable character, becoming a fan favourite after his retirement and is an ambassador for a national charity protecting children from violence. Crawford has done his own charity work including a 3,600 km, 22-day cycle from Melbourne to Perth named “Tour de Crawf” and an 11-day walk from Adelaide Melbournerne. Over those events, he earned upwards of $1.8 million for breast cancer research. It’s tight but his continual charity work gives Crawf the edge.
Edge: Crawford. Just
VERDICT – SHANE CRAWFORD
AS addressed above, if Dipper had have played for Hawthorn for the whole duration of his career, instead of in the reserves than his career numbers would look similar to that of Crawford’s. However, with respect to the 1986 Brownlow medalist, Shane Crawford edges him out in most areas. There is a reason that Crawf is regarded as one of the best players from the generation prior and his off-field pursuits help consolidate him as one of Australian sport’s finest.