By Clancy Hurst
Queenslander Ben Hudson has become the oldest player to debut for a fourth club after coming in to replace an injured Darren Jolly for Collingwood against Hawthorn in round three.
Having played 55 games for Adelaide, 88 with the Western Bulldogs, Hudson announced his retirement and played his farewell match at the end of 2011 before seeking a shock trade to the Brisbane Lions.
He played a further 18 games for the Lions in 2012 before again announcing his retirement at the end of the season.
Just months after his second retirement in as many years, Hudson signed with the Magpies as a ruck coach and stated his intention to nominate as a mature-aged rookie in the hope of securing a spot on Collingwood’s rookie list.
Hudson was elevated onto his fourth senior list in March in a role that will see him act as a back-up to Darren Jolly and West Coast recruit, Quinten Lynch, and as a mentor to the inexperienced ruck pair of Jarrod Witts and Brodie Grundy.
The fact that Hudson is now at his fourth AFL club is that much more remarkable, considering he began his playing career at the relatively late age of 24.
Born in Victoria, Hudson moved to Queensland at a young age, where he grew up in Palm Beach on the Gold Coast.
He played basketball until 2000, when he began studying at the University of Queensland in Brisbane and started playing for the University of Queensland Australian Football Club.
After showing a great deal of promise, Hudson’s coach recommended that he play for Mount Gravatt Football Club, where he went on to win the best & fairest in 2001 and take part in the club’s 2002 premiership side.
Following his success in Queensland, Hudson returned to Victoria to play for the Werribee Football Club where Adelaide talent scouts recognised his skills and lured him to the AFL at pick number 58 in the 2003 NAB AFL Draft.
Showing no signs of slowing down, the veteran ‘rookie’ was among the best players for the black and white in the loss to Hawthorn, finishing with 25 hit outs, 22 disposals and a goal.
Collingwood senior coach, Nathan Buckley, praised Hudson’s effort in his first hit out for the Magpies, commenting on how well he still covers the ground.
“He has not lost anything over the last couple years,” Buckley said.
After the match, Hudson admitted he still was still nervous even though it was the fourth time he had debuted for an AFL club.
“At my elderly age the fear of failure is a bit more,” Hudson said.
Ben Hudson is the 28th player to play for four or more clubs in VFL/AFL history.