Paul Sidney Harding
4 June 1964 (age 59)
Place of birth
United Kingdom (England)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 22y 333d
Last game: 30y 15d
Height and weight
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 98 kg
State of origin
United Kingdom (England)
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
|East Fremantle||WASFL||1981-1986, 1992, 1994-1996||136||54||0.40||—||—||—||—||—|
|WASFL||1981-1986, 1992, 1994-1996||136||54||0.40||—||—||—||—||—|
AFL: 9,836th player to appear, 2,007th most games played, 4,410th most goals kickedHawthorn: 711th player to appear, 577th most games played, 596th most goals kickedSt. Kilda: 1,352nd player to appear, 244th most games played, 529th most goals kickedWest Coast: 76th player to appear, 122nd most games played, 178th most goals kicked
Ostensibly a knock ruckman, Paul Harding boasted all the aggression, intelligence and strength typically associated with the role, but combined it with the general mobility and all round skill of a ruck-rover, making him in effect almost two players in one. He commenced his league career with East Fremantle in 1981, having joined the club from Riverton, and by the mid-1980s was being widely hailed as the finest ruckman in Western Australia. He made his interstate debut in 1983, and both that year and the next helped Western Australia secure the national title.
Harding went on to represent his state a dozen times, with arguably his finest performance coming in the 19.13 (127) to 7.9 (51) annihilation of Victoria at Subiaco in 1991, when he was awarded the Simpson Medal. By that time, Harding was playing his club football in the AFL, for St Kilda. His first port of call when leaving East Fremantle in 1987 had actually been Hawthorn, but in two injury ruined seasons he had only managed 11 senior games. He was much more successful with the Saints, for whom he impressed as one of the most effective and brainiest big men in the competition.
In 1992, after 62 games in three seasons at St Kilda, Harding returned home to the west and joined West Coast, where he had in fact initially wanted to play back in 1987. He played 43 games in three years with the Eagles, including the Grand Final win over Geelong in 1992. He completed his senior career back at East Fremantle for whom he had played a total of 136 league games by the time he retired in 1996. Included among those games were the winning Grand Finals of 1985 against Subiaco (reviewed here) and 1994 against Claremont.
Author - John Devaney