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Melbourne Football Club

Where are they now? Hassa Mann

Club historian Lynda Carroll tracks down one of the greats of the club Hassa Mann
A LEGEND of the club and of the game in two states - his native Victoria and Western Australia - Hassa Mann has more than five decades of service to the Melbourne Football Club under his belt.

He is a familiar figure to most who follow the red and blue, and with boundless energy and determination at his disposal, this looks set to continue for many seasons to come.
Mann is originally from Merbein, in Victoria’s dry north-west. He was spotted in action by Melbourne secretary Jim Cardwell, who was on a recruiting mission for another player.

Mann was approached by nine of the twelve VFL clubs, including being ‘offered a new car to stand out and play with Richmond, and that was big money in 1959.’

Despite Melbourne’s enticement of new boots - which did not fit - being far less than a car, Mann made an astute decision to don the red and blue, making his debut in Round One, 1959.

Best First Year Player in that season, Mann played in the first of his three premierships. The other two followed in 1960 and 1964, with Mann instrumental in Melbourne reaching the latter.

To gain top spot at the end of the home and away season, Melbourne had to defeat Hawthorn at the end of the home and away season. Mann kicked the goal that gave the Demons victory by just four points.

‘That kick was something every player dreams of … it was in the dying seconds of the game that I secured the ball and kicked the winning goal from an almost impossible angle,’ Mann told melbournefc.com.au.

A Victorian state representative, All Australian, and part of the ‘Galahs’ team to tour Ireland and the USA in 1967, Mann was one of Melbourne’s best of his era.

He was a Best and Fairest winner three times in 1962, 1963 and 1967, and captain of the club between 1965 and 1968. Made a Life Member in that year, he then left for South Fremantle, where he won the Best and Fairest in 1969, and coached the premiership side in 1970.

Returning to Melbourne, Mann coached Caulfield, Eltham and Templestowe, before taking the reins of the Melbourne Under 19s. He became a Club director in 1991, and was made CEO in 1992.

‘After the MFC, I was CEO of the Titans for two and a half years, before I retired. I’ve been a director of The Bentleigh Club since 2001, overseeing operations of the MFC’s gaming venue, and did the same with Leighoak,’ he said.

Mann, who is also a member of the Club’s Team of the Century, an MFC Hall of Fame inductee, and a ‘Hero’ from the 150th celebrations of 2008, maintains many connections to Melbourne in retirement. As well as the director’s role at The Bentleigh Club, which ‘enables me to keep in close contact with the Club, I see my role as a continuation of a long association with the Club’.

Mann and his teammates continue to be a close-knit group.

This is achieved in a number of ways - of course, there are the many functions, including the recent reunion of 1960 premiership team members - with the monthly ‘Barassi Lunch’ being central to the cause of contact and camaraderie.

‘We’ve retained close association with teammates of that era with the Barassi Lunch, and we meet on the last Tuesday of the month (to become better players?!) We recently met to celebrate Trevor Johnson’s 75th birthday. There were eighteen players there, and collectively we had around 57 premierships between us!’

The achievements of Mann, and those of his era, are undoubtedly spectacular, but beneath it all, Mann holds the essence of the lunches and like occasions.

‘We meet up to retain close friendships,’ he said.

It is something that Mann particularly hopes is the lot of today’s generation of players.  

‘It would appear that the young team of today resembles in some way the group of players from 1952 and 1953 who started Melbourne’s ‘Golden Era’ run. I hope they can be as successful!’