28 September 1960 (age 62)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 311d
Last game: 32y 342d
Height and weight
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 95 kg
Hawthorn: 33, 7
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Gary Ayres, Hawthorn’s monolithic defender, seems to have been patrolling Australian Football League backlines for an eternity. Certainly, he has haunted the hallowed halls of Hawk-land for a while - 13 years to be precise - and most of those have been spent repelling some of the strongest attacks in Australian football history. Ayres is one of those Hawthorn mainstays who actually remembers what it was like to lose.¹
Originally from Warragul, defender Gary Ayres was a key member of Hawthorn's great 1980s combinations, a fact emphasised by his feat in winning dual Norm Smith Medals in 1986 and 1988. Solidly built, ultra courageous, and seldom flustered, Ayres epitomised the Hawthorn style of play at a time when the club was the undisputed benchmark for excellence in the game. He made his debut in 1978 as a seventeen year old, and by the time he retired in 1993 he had played a total of 269 V/AFL games, and booted 70 goals.
A member of five Hawthorn premiership teams, Ayres won the club's best and fairest award in 1986, and was club captain for his final two seasons in the side. After his retirement as a player he coached Geelong from 1995 to 1999 and Adelaide between 2000 and 2004. In October 2007 he was appointed coach of VFL club Port Melbourne. When Hawthorn's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century' was announced in 2003, Gary Ayres was selected in his favoured back-pocket position (although it has to be conceded that he played some of his most captivating and influential football when moved to the pivot, as sometimes was the case when the team needed a lift).
Author - John Devaney
1. “The Canberra Times”, 23/2/90, page 15.