AFL legend Doug Hawkins is lucky to be alive after lightning struck him while sheltering in a tin shed at his worksite during a massive thunderstorm.
The much-loved 350-gamer was back on the job in inner-city Melbourne on Friday, hours after he was rushed to hospital feeling unwell with shivers up his left arm.
Hawkins, 62, compared the frightening ordeal to playing against Hawthorn Hawks arch-rival Robert DiPierdomenico in the 1980s as he jokingly recalled the life experience which ‘scared the s**t ‘ out of him.
He had just started work at the Yarraville site on Thursday when a freak thunderstorm hit Melbourne, forcing the former player, also known as Dancing Dougie, to duck for cover.
Hawkins says the severe storm, which left 50,000 homes and businesses without power, was the loudest bang he’s ever heard.
Doug Hawkins was rushed to hospital after being hit by lighting on Thursday morning
‘I’ve never in my life I experienced the thunder we had in Yarraville,’ Hawkins told Nine News.
‘It scared the s**t out of me’.
‘The box actually shook for 5-10 seconds.’
‘I was too scared to get out of the box to run to my car, which was about eight metres away.’
‘But I was too scared to go. The big tough footy player, Dougie was actually too scared to come out.’
He described the experience almost as terrifying as playing against Brownlow Medalist and five-time premiership winner DiPierdomenico in his prime.
‘This compares to playing on Dipper in the 80s when you’re playing against him on the wing when the ball is loose, and you don’t know where he’s coming from,’ Hawkins quipped.
‘You just didn’t know where the big fella is, in fact it was probably more scary than the thunder.’
‘It was a walk in the park compared to playing against Dipper!’
Doug Hawkins (pictured in action in 1992) is a legend at Footscray/Western Bulldogs
When Hawkins eventually reached to his car, he immediately felt off-colour and suspected something was wrong.
After a colleague told him he looked pale and that his eyes were crossed, the father-of-three called ex-Bulldogs club doctor and friend Jake Landsberger, who ordered him to go straight to the hospital.
He assured 3AW hosts Ross and Russel on Friday morning that he felt much better after being discharged from the hospital.
‘I’m back up and about,’ he said.
‘I got the ECG come through really good, and thank God I had someone behind me looking after me.’
Doug Hawkins (pictured) was back at work on Friday joking about the frightening ordeal, hours after he was struck by lightning
Hawkins played 329 games for Footscray (now known as Western Bulldogs) for 17 seasons, including three as captain.
He played a final season with Fitzroy before retiring in 1995.
Hawkins was a member of the panel on the AFL Footy Show in the mid-1990s before later signing with Channel Seven’s rival program, Live and Kicking.
He ran as a candidate for Clive Palmer’s United Party for a Victorian Senate seat at the 2013 federal election but was unsuccessful.
He was famously dragged by his wife Raelene to a Harry Styles concert in 2017 after she won tickets from a radio station.
Hawkins had never heard of the former One Direction star at the time.
‘I’d rather see The Eagles or American or Bread. I don’t want to go and see him,’ Hawkins told Nova 100’s Chrissie, Sam and Browny show.
‘He was with who? I’ve never heard of them.
‘I used to kick in one direction. I can’t be doing this … this is a lot of manure.’
Doug Hawkins is one of the greats of the game with 350 games and 227 goals
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