Chris Judd is inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame; wife Bec leads tributes

By Australian Associated Press

Throughout his glittering AFL career, new Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee Chris Judd did just about everything on-field at high speed.

And his rise to football mega stardom was, fittingly, every bit as rapid.

Taken by West Coast with pick three in the 2001 ‘super draft’, Judd began his first AFL season with the Eagles’ WAFL affiliate East Perth.

The then 18-year-old kicked four goals from 20-plus disposals against fierce rivals West Perth in a blistering debut.

‘I wouldn’t envisage that he’d spend too much time at this football club,’ Royals coach Tony Micale said at the time.

What respected WA football figure Micale did see in his crystal ball was that Judd, who never played for East Perth again, would soon become a champion at the elite level.

The silky-skilled speedster made his AFL debut for West Coast a week later and didn’t look back, announcing himself as a genuine force in his second season with a five-goal performance against powerhouse Brisbane at the Gabba.

Within three years, Judd had established himself as a key cog in a midfield unit that would steer the Eagles into five straight finals series for two grand final appearances and one premiership.

He was awarded his first Brownlow Medal in 2004 at a ceremony that is best remembered for the iconic red dress dress worn by his now-wife Rebecca on a night that not only altered the trajectory of Judd’s football career, but changed the couple’s life forever.

‘Some wonderful opportunities opened up from it, but life was just very different with things around privacy and having a partner who was seemingly public property as well,’ Judd said on Fox Footy’s Hall of Fame broadcast on Tuesday night.

‘There were a lot of things to get used to and my memories are of a really special night and an exclamation point between life before then and life after it as well.’

Judd won the Norm Smith Medal a year later in the losing grand final against Sydney and captained West Coast as they gained premiership revenge on the Swans in 2006.

He had taken over as Eagles skipper when troubled star Ben Cousins was stripped of the role earlier that year.

Originally from Victoria, Judd made a high-profile switch to Carlton at the end of 2007 and won his second Brownlow in 2010.

But he could not replicate the premiership success with the Blues before retiring in 2015 after 279 games and 228 goals.

Like Micale, West Coast premiership teammate and fellow Hall of Fame member Dean Cox was immediately taken by Judd’s talent.

‘In the first couple of training sessions you saw glimpses of the player he would become,’ Cox said on Fox Footy.

‘He’d take the ball, accelerate, weave through, dodge players and then hit up the key forward.

‘It was really impressive and right from the outset you knew he was something pretty special.’

Cox added: ‘There wasn’t a flaw in his game.

‘If you look at great players and legends of the game, they do what’s required when no one’s watching.

‘That’s what made him become the player he was and the bigger the game, the better.’

Judd was saluted with his induction into the Hall of Fame on Tuesday night in his first year of eligibility.

He was one of four inductees, alongside former St Kilda star Nathan Burke, Perth and Richmond great Rob Wiley and women’s football pioneer Debbie Lee.

South Australian master coach Jack Oatey and Western Australian champion Merv McIntosh were elevated to Legend status posthumously.