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Hawthorn Hawks, Jack Gunston, Ray Gunston, death, North Melbourne Kangaroos, return to footy, teammates, support, emotional, interview

An emotional Jack Gunston fought back tears as he thanked his team-mates for “watching out” following the shocking death of his father Ray.

Gunston Snr, a former league executive and interim Essendon chief executive, died of a heart attack aged 64 earlier this month.

Gunston returned to action this week after being out on leave at the club and hit back with five goals from 17 on debut as Hawthorn thrashed North Melbourne by 46 points.

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After scoring his first goal of the day at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena, he kissed his black armband and pointed to the sky.

In a heartbreaking post-match interview, Gunston called the Hawthorn footy club his “happy place” and spoke fondly of his father’s pride watching the game.

“It’s good to be out here. It’s good to be back in all week, boys getting paid, just having a few laughs,” he told Fox Footy.

“It’s always good to hit a few. I missed some of them, I left some of them there.

“I’m not the first person to go through (the death of a loved one) — I came out here, I know this is a fun place for myself and my dad. He loved me playing football. He loved watching me play football.”

“To come out here, it just felt normal and I could just focus on football.

“The guys took care of me and wanted me a little bit forward today.”

Fox Footy’s Dermot Breton says the win over North Melbourne will still be a “blur” for Gunston given the emotion surrounding the game.

The Hawks veteran took time to thank the AFL community for their support and said he was grateful to everyone he met.

“That’s the beauty of being at a football club, you’ve got great support,” he said.

“My family has received a lot of support in the last two weeks.

“We are incredibly grateful for all the efforts. We’re lucky, some people go through this and don’t have the support we’ve had the opportunity to.

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