THE 1989 Grand Final remains one of the greatest in living memory yet for two of the main protagonists, there are premiership-deciders that are more significant.

Michael Tuck captained Hawthorn to its eighth premiership that afternoon and was one of several players to sustain a serious injury in what was a ferocious encounter. Geelong's Gary Ablett snr kicked nine goals and won the Norm Smith Medal.

Tuck played in seven Hawthorn premierships – four as captain – and said this week that the 1983 and 1986 triumphs were his two favourites.

"The 1983 one was good because we had won in 1976 and 1978, but I was only young then and took them for granted. Before '83 we were out of the finals, then we got back in and won it and that was good because I was older, more mature and really able to enjoy it.
"And we flogged Essendon, which made it even better!"

The 1986 flag was his first as captain. "To be lifted onto the players' shoulders afterwards with (almost) 100,000 people looking at me and me looking at them – that was a real highlight."

Tuck described the 1989 decider, in which the Hawks held off the fast-finishing Cats by six points, as "brutal".

"It was a good game and people liked it, not so much (for) the violence but (for) the physicality, and it had everything like that.

"I never thought we would lose but it could have been a draw. We were very fortunate to win. John Platten, who had concussion, can't remember the game, getting the medal, or anything at all."

Tuck split the webbing on his hand, but reckons he would have played the next week had it been a draw. But he said there were three or four Hawks who would have missed the replay.

Ablett said Geelong could have won in 1989, but he estimated that the large talent gap between the two clubs that year meant there were more winnable grand finals the Cats let slip down the track.

"While it obviously hurts, we couldn’t match Hawthorn's evenness around the ground. We gave it a good shot and ran them really close, but they were back-to-back premiers," he said.

Geelong lost to West Coast in both 1992 and 1994, however Ablett, who was a regular state of origin player for Victoria at the time, said playing the Eagles back then was like playing the West Australian state team.

"That was pretty tough. We were a little unfortunate to come up against those sides."

Despite the fact Carlton lost just two games for the year and a final margin of 61 points, Ablett still rates the 1995 Grand Final against Carlton as "the one that got away" from the Cats.

Tuck and Ablett spoke this week at a joint fund-raiser for The Smouldering Stump, an organisation that raises awareness of post-traumatic stress particularly for those who remain affected by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and Maccabi Victoria, the roof body for Jewish sport in Melbourne.

Read more from Gary Ablett and Michael Tuck in this week's AFL Record, available at all grounds.

Twitter: @afl_hashbrowne