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The complete history of the Mighty Magpies

Ernie Hug

Ernie Hug

1963-1965, 1967-1970
7
Other Guernsey Nos.
10, 17, 45

59 CFC Games Played

5 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
4 March 1944
Date of Death
17 June 1978
Recruited From
St Pats, Sale
Collingwood Debut
Round 10, 1963
Height:
193cm
Weight:
87kg

Biography

If you wanted to know which part of Ernie Hug’s game was his strong suit, you only needed to look at his hands.

They were huge. They could span around 28cm – which was only marginally less than those of Neil Mann, who was famously photographed holding 24 eggs in ONE hand in the 1950s.

But Ernie Hug’s hands were only part of his story. He remains one of the more intriguing characters to have pulled on a Collingwood jumper, and his family story is perhaps one of the most tragic in all of football.

Ernie began his career at Collingwood in 1963 after being recruited from St Patrick’s College in Sale, where he was captain of the football team. But he wasn’t your standard country recruit.

His father owned two sawmills and a 7000 acre property with a Hereford stud farm at Heyfield, near Gippsland. He drove a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. Ernie would be up at dawn every day to work on the farm, and because of the distance he could make it to training only one night a week.

So he did remarkably well to make his senior debut within 10 weeks of arriving at Victoria Park, even if it was only to be named on the bench and stay there throughout the game.

Part of the reason for his rapid ascension was his physique. Ernie was a magnificent specimen of a footballer, standing around 193cm tall (6’ 4”) and weighing around 87kg. He was super strong even before he hit the weights in the clubrooms. That strength, combined with his enormous hands, good judgement and great stamina, made him a formidable foe in any marking contest, even from his earliest days at the club. He wasn’t quick by any means, but his marking alone – combined with his thumping kicking and good ‘engine’ – made him a promising prospect.

The Magpies tried him both forward and back in his early reserves outings but they eventually settled on a back pocket, with occasional stints in the ruck. He played only the single game in 1963 and just two more the following year, both from the bench and with almost no game time, before becoming a regular with 15 in 1965 (he missed four through suspension).

Unfortunately a persistent knee injury forced him to the sidelines for the whole of 1966.

But he was so keen to play again he actually built his own leg-strengthening machine on his parents’ property at Heyfield to exercise his knee. By the time he returned in 1967 he was fit and ready to go.

He hit the form of his life that year. He played in every match, marked everything in sight and ended up finishing third in the Copeland. He took 14 marks in one game against South Melbourne. Against Melbourne it was 11 – including eight in a stunning last quarter where he proved virtually impassable. By the end of the season he was playing centre half-back. The next year he played for Victoria against South Australia at the MCG.

His brilliant form attracted his first serious bouts of publicity. In 1967, The Herald mentioned that there was “a good story behind those hands that have been pulling down mark after mark in Collingwood’s full-back line in the past few weeks.” The journalist then noted that those same hands looked after a $10,000 prize bull, and piloted a Rolls Royce Vanden Plas – which had been a 21st birthday present a couple of years before. He was photographed feeding the cattle on the family farm from the window of his flash car. A few weeks later, a 900kg Hereford bull destined for the Hug farm was photographed wearing an oversized Collingwood guernsey when collected by Ernie.

It was that same Rolls Royce car which Ernie drove to training at Victoria Park, and to matches at weekends – prompting lots of ribbing from teammates, opponents and, of course, rival fans. He was a long way from your average Collingwood player, even though he was an extremely quiet and unassuming guy. But while he was dominating the air at weekends, nobody cared about anything else.

Unfortunately his form began to taper off after 1968, and he played only two games in each of the 1969 and ’70 seasons. He played a further year at South Melbourne, for 15 games, before returning to Heyfield.

Soon after, his story took the first of its tragic twists. In 1978, Ernie died in a tractor accident on the family farm. One of his sons, Ernie Jnr, turned into a very good young player and was taken by Collingwood at No.106 in the 1989 national draft but never played a senior game. He was later drafted by both the Swans and the Hawks but couldn’t break through there either. He was playing for Sale in 1993 when he was hit in the throat and suffered temporary paralysis. Years later, and just after he had successfully returned to the field, his brother Peter died after an accidental collision during a match at Traralgon.

That’s an unbelievably awful series of events. But they don’t diminish the memories of Ernie Hug Snr standing tall in defence, taking mark after mark in his heyday in the late 1960s.

Statistics

CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1963-1965, 1967-1970 59 5 2 55%

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1963 1 0 45

1963 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 10 Sydney W 0 45 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1964 2 0 17

1964 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 2 Geelong L 0 17 View match >
Round 3 Western Bulldogs W 0 17 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1965 15 133 17 150 17, 10

1965 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 St Kilda L 7 2 9 17 View match >
Round 2 Richmond W 9 2 11 17 View match >
Round 3 Hawthorn W 13 2 15 17 View match >
Round 4 Geelong L 6 2 8 17 View match >
Round 5 Carlton L 0 17 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne L 13 1 14 17 View match >
Round 7 Sydney W 15 3 18 17 View match >
Round 8 Western Bulldogs W 8 1 9 17 View match >
Round 9 Essendon W 9 1 10 17 View match >
Round 10 North Melbourne W 8 1 9 17 View match >
Round 15 Geelong W 10 10 17 View match >
Round 16 Carlton W 14 1 15 17 View match >
Round 17 Melbourne W 9 9 17 View match >
Round 18 Sydney L 7 7 17 View match >
Semi Final St Kilda L 5 1 6 10 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1967 19 5 3 219 34 253 7

1967 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Geelong L 9 2 11 7 View match >
Round 2 North Melbourne W 8 4 12 7 View match >
Round 3 Essendon W 6 6 7 View match >
Round 4 Western Bulldogs W 5 3 8 7 View match >
Round 5 Sydney W 2 15 3 18 7 View match >
Round 6 Carlton L 2 2 6 6 7 View match >
Round 7 St Kilda W 18 1 19 7 View match >
Round 8 Richmond W 6 6 7 View match >
Round 9 Fitzroy W 12 1 13 7 View match >
Round 10 Hawthorn W 15 6 21 7 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne W 1 1 9 5 14 7 View match >
Round 12 Geelong L 9 1 10 7 View match >
Round 13 North Melbourne W 17 1 18 7 View match >
Round 14 Essendon L 10 3 13 7 View match >
Round 15 Western Bulldogs L 12 1 13 7 View match >
Round 16 Sydney W 18 1 19 7 View match >
Round 17 Carlton W 12 1 13 7 View match >
Round 18 St Kilda L 15 1 16 7 View match >
Semi Final Geelong L 17 17 7 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1968 18 3 198 36 234 7

1968 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Richmond L 13 3 16 7 View match >
Round 2 Fitzroy L 9 2 11 7 View match >
Round 3 St Kilda L 0 7 View match >
Round 4 Geelong L 21 21 7 View match >
Round 5 Hawthorn W 15 15 7 View match >
Round 6 Essendon W 13 2 15 7 View match >
Round 7 Carlton L 16 16 7 View match >
Round 8 Melbourne L 9 3 12 7 View match >
Round 9 Sydney L 12 7 19 7 View match >
Round 10 Western Bulldogs W 14 2 16 7 View match >
Round 11 North Melbourne W 10 4 14 7 View match >
Round 12 Richmond W 2 20 4 24 7 View match >
Round 13 Fitzroy W 7 7 7 View match >
Round 14 St Kilda W 1 8 3 11 7 View match >
Round 15 Geelong L 13 2 15 7 View match >
Round 16 Hawthorn L 11 1 12 7 View match >
Round 17 Essendon L 1 1 2 7 View match >
Round 20 Sydney W 6 2 8 7 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1969 2 12 1 13 7

1969 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Hawthorn L 2 1 3 7 View match >
Round 20 North Melbourne W 10 10 7 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1970 2 15 1 16 7

1970 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 14 Hawthorn L 15 1 16 7 View match >
Round 15 Geelong W 0 7 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 59 5 6 577 89 666
Avg/Game   0.08 0.10 9.78 1.51 11.29
Legend
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number

657

Total AFL Games
74
Total AFL Goals
5
CFC Debut
Round 10, 1963
CFC Last Game
Round 15, 1970
Recruited From
St Pats, Sale
Full Name
Ernie Hug

Awards

  • Third Best and Fairest (J.J. Joyce Trophy)
    1967
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