Jack Gunston paid tribute to his late father in Hawthorne’s dominant 46-point victory over North Melbourne on Saturday.
The striker returned to the Hawks after the break to mourn loss of father Ray Gunston earlier this month.
Ray, longtime AFL administrator and interim Essendon boss, suffered a heart attack at home and died at the age of 64.
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And Jack made a decent hit back against the Kangaroos, scoring the first goal of the game at Blundstone Arena in Hobart.
He kissed his black bracelet and pointed to the sky, greeting his late father.
Gunston had the day off, scoring five goals from 17 shots, showing the best game on earth.
In a heartfelt interview after the game, he referred to Hawthorne Football Club as his “happy place” and paid tribute to his father, who he said loved to watch him play.
“It’s good to be here,” Gunston told Fox Footy.
“It’s nice to be back within a week and just be normal, the boys are paying you, just having a little laugh.
“It’s always nice to kick a few. I also missed something, left something.
“I am not the first person to experience (the death of a loved one). I came here, I know that this is a happy place for me and my father, he loved me to play football. He liked to watch me play football.
“Coming here was normal and I could just focus on football.
“The boys have been watching over me and looking for me a little ahead today.”
An emotional Gunston said he is grateful for the support of the Hawks and the wider AFL community in recent weeks.
“That’s the beauty of being at a football club, you have great support,” said the three-time Premier League player.
“My family has received a lot of support over the past two weeks.
“We were incredibly grateful to everyone who reached out to us. We’re just lucky some people go through this and don’t get the support we’re lucky to have.”
Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell said that Gunston’s mom was in the locker room after the game and there were emotional scenes.
“She was emotional, which made him and some of the rest of us, too,” he said.
“It was a really difficult couple of weeks.
“Just seeing them here and being there for everyone… I think it gives you a sense of belonging and I think that’s what he really needs.
“Football clubs are a great place in difficult times.”
Hawthorn dominated the game, taking the lead and accurately kicking to run away with a 19.7 (121) win to 11.9 (75).
The Hawks won three games in a row and moved up to 13th in the standings.
Originally published as Hawthorn star Jack Gunston pays emotional tribute to late father