26 February 1950 (age 72)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 62d
Last game: 31y 184d
Height and weight
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 86 kg
Melbourne: 33, 11
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Originally from Moorabbin Technical School, Gary Hardeman progressed through the ranks at Melbourne before making his senior debut in 1967. During his first few seasons he gave no indication of being anything particularly special, but as the '70s dawned he suddenly blossomed into one of the finest half backs, and indeed players, in the VFL. Dogged, determined and relentless, he seldom lowered his colours for an entire game.
Hardeman became a near automatic interstate selection for the 'Big V' and won All Australian honours after the 1972 Perth carnival. In 1974 he finished runner-up in the Brownlow Medal with 23 votes, four adrift of winner Keith Greig - a highly noteworthy and quite rare achievement for a permanent defender.
Between 1978 and 1980, Hardeman played 44 SANFL matches for Sturt, plus three for South Australia. He was still very much at his peak as a footballer, and must rank as one of the greatest ever Victorians to transfer across the border.
In 1981 he returned home to Melbourne where he played one more season, taking his final tally of VFL games to 219. The high esteem in which Gary Hardeman is held at Melbourne was emphasised during the 2000 season when he was selected at centre half back in the Demons' official 'Team of the Century'.
Author - John Devaney