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1988:  Robert DiPierdomenico of Hawthorn celebrates his win in the VFL Grand Final match against Melbourne. Picture: Allsport Australia/ALLSPORT
1988: Robert DiPierdomenico of Hawthorn celebrates his win in the VFL Grand Final match against Melbourne. Picture: Allsport Australia/ALLSPORT

'Dipper' DiPierdomenico: More than a massive moustache

As we head towards Australia Day and remember this country's legends, our friends at Bundaberg Rum give you the chance to put forward your memories of our sporting greats. Hit us up in the comments field below and tell us your favourite Dipper story.

Meanwhile you can nominate your own local sporting legend and win prizes for yourself and them. More info here.

Robert DiPierdomenico was a larger-than-life character on and off the footy field.

In true Aussie style he scored a nickname that was a shorter version of his real one. Plus, no one could spell or say his surname properly anyway, so he became known as "Dipper".

The big Dipper was a burly, rugged midfielder with a reputation as an enforcer during the '70s and '80s, playing for that team with the brown and yellow jumper.

Only Hawthorn fans could really love Dipper at the time. He was universally disliked by opposition fans as he played the game hard. 

Robert DiPierdomenico of Hawthorn celebrates with the Premiership Trophy in the rooms after winning the 1986 VFL Grand Final against Carlton. (Photo by Getty Images).
Robert DiPierdomenico of Hawthorn celebrates with the Premiership Trophy in the rooms after winning the 1986 VFL Grand Final against Carlton. (Photo by Getty Images).

Dipper was pretty hard to miss in a crowd, sporting a jaw you could ski jump off, long curly locks and a dirty big Mario Bros mo that ended up becoming his trademark.

His on-field legend, though, stems from winning five flags with the Hawks and his courage in one particular match - the epic 1989 grand final, considered by some the best of the modern era.

This grand final was known for its hard play as much as the scoreline and Dipper was the centrepiece of the story.

Dipper copped broken ribs and a punctured lung but he didn't go off, fighting through excruciating pain to lead the Hawks to victory. Afterwards he went straight to hospital, where he spent more than a week and almost died, missing all the celebrations. 

Despite this toughness, Dipper was also a very talented player. I mean you're no mug if you can snare a Brownlow Medal like he did in 1986.

After hanging up the boots he tried his hand at being the colourful boundary rider for Channel 7's footy coverage. He was the first one to really turn that job into an art form.

Dipper's colourful personality and huge presence was perfect for television beyond the AFL boundary riding gig, and he eventually scored a few acting roles.

He played trouble-making truckie 'Bruce the Brute' in an episode of legendary Aussie drama The Flying Doctors.

And he also found his way on to Ramsay Street, making an appearance as himself on the popular soapie Neighbours.

Dipper is a big personality. He is a character, he is loud and he is always happy, and despite (or perhaps because of) his hard on-field play, is an Aussie legend.

Make your own Aussie legends

Dipper in action in 1985. (Photo by Getty Images)
Dipper in action in 1985. (Photo by Getty Images)