2023 Queensland Football Hall of Fame – Ben Hudson

Ben Hudson was an almost an accidental footballer. First and foremost, he was a basketballer studying physiotherapy while living on campus at the University of Queensland in 2000. For a bit of fun and exercise, and a little pocket money, he joined the university football team, the Red Lions.

It was a fortuitous move, setting the 199cm bearded ruckman/academic on a path to an AFL career that spanned four clubs in three states across more than 20 years with more to come.

Originally from Werribee in Melbourne’s south-western outskirts, he moved with his family to the Gold Coast aged 10 and was educated at Somerset College, where he dabbled in rugby union. He played at fullback because he could ‘kick and catch’. He also had a taste of Australian football at 12 and 13 with Palm Beach-Currumbin, but after a late growth spurt, his focus was squarely on a promising representative basketball career. Until he got to university.

He showed his talent in the 2000 season with the Red Lions, playing in what at the time was the South Queensland Australian Football Association (SQAFA). Enough for coach Quentin Johnson, a former QAFL premiership player at West Brisbane who had been a member of the Brisbane Bears development squad in the early days, to recommend him to his former West Brisbane coach Danny Craven, who had taken charge at Mt.Gravatt.

The cross-code convert won the Mt.Gravatt best and fairest in 2001 and in 2002, after representing Queensland against Western Australia, was a key figure in a Vultures premiership side which included AFL players Nathan Chapman, Robert Scott, Tony Lynn and Steve Kenna.

Encouraged to have a serious crack at football, he returned to Werribee, playing in the VFL while aligned to the Western Bulldogs. After one season with the Tigers, he was drafted by the Adelaide Crows at #58 in the 2003 AFL National Draft.

Ben played 55 games with the Crows from 2004-07 despite missing the entire 2006 season after blowing his knee out on the eve the 2005 finals. But after his AFL finals debut in ’07, contract negotiations with the Crows broke down and he asked to be traded to the Dogs.

It was a great move. He played 71 of a possible 75 games in 2008-09-10, including three preliminary finals, and was a member of the Dogs’ 2010 pre-season premiership side. He played 17 games in 2011 before retiring and declaring his intention to move back to Queensland. At 32, with 143 games behind him after a late start, he’d had a fine career.

But he wasn’t done. Lured out of retirement by the Lions to be a back-up for Matthew Leuenberger, he played 18 games in 2012 with his third AFL club after Leuenberger blew out his knee in Round 3.

He retired again, but still he wasn’t quite done. Ben came out of retirement again to join Collingwood as a playing ruck coach in 2013-14. At 34 he played his 168th and last game with the Pies against the Gold Coast SUNS at Carrara, a short drive from his old school.

Queensland’s first four-club player, he returned home (again) and joined the Lions as forward/ruck coach under Justin Leppitsch in 2015-16. He retained in the same role when Chris Fagan took over in 2017. He was midfield/ruck coach from 2018-22 and 2023, while completing a Masters in Sports Coaching back at UQ to add to his physiotherapy degree, he chose to expand his coaching experience by taking charge of the Lions VFL side. All while commuting from the Gold Coast, where he lives with wife Rita and sons Ignatius (12) and Stirling (10).

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