Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Leigh Raymond Matthews

Known as
Leigh Matthews


1 March 1952 (age 71)

Place of birth
Frankston, VIC (3199)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 147d
Last game: 33y 211d

Height and weight
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 86 kg

Senior clubs

Jumper numbers
Hawthorn: 53, 32, 3

State of origin

Family links
Kelvin Matthews (Brother)

Leigh Matthews

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV

AFL: 8,201st player to appear, 36th most games played, 9th most goals kickedHawthorn: 598th player to appear, 2nd most games played, 2nd most goals kicked

Popularly referred to as 'Lethal' there was nothing delicate or fancy about the style of Hawthorn champion Leigh Matthews. However, unlike in 'sports' like gymnastics, diving and synchronised swimming, Australian football scores do not derive in any directly assessable way from perceived aesthetic merit. Efficiency and expediency are paramount in Australian football, and Leigh Matthews possessed both in abundance.

Which is only to affirm that, in Australian football terms, he was a highly skilful player. In 332 VFL games over 17 seasons with the Hawks he was eight times adjudged his club's fairest and most brilliant player - quite an awesome accolade when you consider that his career coincided with arguably Hawthorn's greatest ever era. He also topped the club goalkicking list on no fewer than six occasions in amassing a career total of 915 goals (and, in the process, highlighting another reason for the aptness of the 'Lethal' epithet).

Matthews' failure to secure Victorian football's highest individual honour, the Brownlow Medal, is perhaps not too surprising given his relentlessly vigorous style of play, but participation in the Hawthorn premiership sides of 1971, 1976, 1978 and 1983 will no doubt have afforded more than adequate compensation (if such were needed).

Following his retirement as a player, Matthews embarked on a highly successful coaching career which spawned AFL premierships with Collingwood in 1990, and Brisbane in 2001-2-3.

Author - John Devaney


Full Points Footy Publications


* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.