Berto "Robert" DiPierdomenico (born 5 May 1958) is a retired Australian rules footballer who represented Hawthorn in the Australian Football League (AFL) from the 1970s to the 1990s. Popularly known by his nickname "Dipper", DiPierdomenico is one of the most successful Italian Australians to play Australian football, and his contribution to the game was recognized by selection in the VFL/AFL Italian Team of the Century.
DiPierdomenico was born in Hawthorn to parents Stefano and Antonietta, who had emigrated to Australia from Abbateggio, Italy. A hyperactive child who suffered from stuttering, Dipper attended numerous schools in Hawthorn and neighbouring areas, including Kew High, where he met his future wife Cheryl Bayley, and Swinburne Tech, where his headmaster was his future Hawthorn coach, John Kennedy Senior, DiPierdomenico began playing football in his early teens for local clubs East Hawthorn and North Kew before signing for VFL club Hawthorn as an eighteen-year-old.
Beginning his career with the Hawthorn Football Club in 1975, DiPierdomenico started slowly, playing 99 reserve-grade games as he flitted between first team and reserve-grade football. He kick-started his career in 1978, culminating in a best-on-ground performance in the 1978 VFL Grand Final. He went on to play 240 games and kick 130 goals with the Hawks, retiring in 1991, including five day and five night premierships with one of the most successful eras of domination a club has ever seen.
DiPierdomenico was initially assigned guernsey number #53, but subsequently wore number #9.
He was known for his toughness (which led to many trips to the Tribunal), and the moustachioed Dipper was one of the much-loved, and most media-covered characters in the VFL during the 1980s. DiPierdomenico somehow managed to avoid the Tribunal in 1986 to win the Brownlow Medal, tying with Greg Williams, who was playing for Sydney at the time. Later in the week, he would win his third Premiership medallion as the Hawks defeated Carlton by 42 points.
Late in the first quarter of the 1989 VFL Grand Final, DiPierdomenico was running backwards to take a mark when he was met solidly from behind by Geelong star Gary Ablett. The force of the collision broke several of DiPierdomenico's ribs and punctured one of his lungs. Despite the pain and unaware of the extent of the damage, DiPierdomenico continued to play until the final siren. Typically, he featured among Hawthorn's best players and also got reported. He collapsed shortly after the game and was rushed to the casualty ward of St. Vincent's Hospital, where doctors found out that DiPierdomenico had punctured a lung. He recounted the gravity of the situation years later:
"By this time I'd been shifted into intensive care. The doctor came in and said if they didn't gag me I was gone... So there you are. I had eight days in hospital to think about what might have happened. To tell you the truth, it scared me."
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DiPierdomenico has long been known for big persona, including his always smiling and jovial personality.
After he retired, he became a popular media personality, as a boundary rider with the Seven Network. After Seven lost the rights to broadcast AFL in 2001, DiPierdomenico continued his tradition as a boundary-rider on radio station 3AW.
In the 1990s, DiPierdomenico made an appearance, along with Dermott Brereton and Adrian Barich, in a charity rugby league match and scored a try, and in typical comedian style dived over the line like superman to celebrate.
DiPierdomenico has appeared on advertising campaigns for Jenny Craig, and, most famously, his long association with Dimmeys & Forges in which his catchphrase in television and radio commercials is "Be there!" and "$9.99!".
DiPierdomenico also made a cameo in TV series Neighbours in 1999, and he appeared on the Channel 9 weight-loss show Excess Baggage in 2012.
DiPierdomenico is an ambassador for The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, a national charity protecting children from violence.
DiPierdomenico also hosted a TV series in 2019 called "Dippers Backyard BBQ Wars".
- Butler, Ben and Binnie, Craig (2007). "Dipper's tax bill nightmare." Herald Sun. 5 September.
- Cometti, Dennis (2004). Centimetre Perfect. London: Allen and Unwin.
- (1991). "Dipper Decides to Call it Quits." The Advertiser. 4 October.
- Edwards, Mike (2007). "Time of the essence for kids, says Dipper." Herald Sun. 13 August.
- Kartal, Y (1992). "The club a party to Dipper's debut." Northern Territory News. 7 June.
- Robert DiPierdomenico's playing statistics from AFL Tables