HAYDN BUNTON SENIOR was recruited from Albury (New South Wales) in 1930, however the Victorian Football League became aware that the Fitzroy Lions had gained his signature by making an illegal payment to Bunton, who was being agrressively pursued by all 12 Victorian Clubs at the time. After serving a 12 month suspension, Bunton showed the Football Public why he was so keenly sought after by winning the prestigious Brownlow Medal in his first 2 seasons of 1931 and 1932. Bunton is regarded by a number of Historians and long term followers of the game as the greatest Australian Football Player ever. The Haydn Bunton Australian Football League Hall of Fame card and hundreds of Fitzroy Lions Players cards are available at qualityafltradingcards.com.
Bunton was to play 119 Games and kick 207 Goals as a Rover/Follower (equivalent to the modern day Ruck Rover role), for the Fitzroy Lions from 1931-1937 and a handful of games in 1942 when on leave from Army Service during the Second World War . He was an absolute icon in Victoria with Film Star Idol looks, and drew huge crowds , attracting constant media attention equal to Cricketer Sir Donald Bradman and the mighty racehorse Phar Lap. During this period Bunton had his own radio show and Newspaper Column, and was regarded as a sex Symbol with good looks compared to Movie Star Rudolf Valentino.
Haydn Bunton trained exceptionally hard compared to most players of his time, could run strongly throughout a match and his baulking and weaving skills drew wondrous gasps of acclaim from supporters wherever he played. He is also credited with being the pioneer of use of constructive handball which is the pivotal skill used widely in todays modern game. His VFL/AFL achievements were phenomenal- Bunton became the first Australian Rules Footballer to win the Brownlow Medal on 3 occasions when he added the 1935 Medal to the earlier 1931 and 1932 awards, he was runner-up in 1934 Brownlow Medal Voting, an inaugural inductee to the Australian Football League Hall of Fame in 1996 and immediately installed as an AFL Legend, included in both the AFL and Fitzroy Lions Teams of the Century, won the Fitzroy Best and Fairest Award on 5 occasions and the Lions Leading Goalkicker Award twice. During this period he was also Captain of the Fitzroy Lions in 1932 and 1937 and Playing Coach in 1936.
Records indicate that Bunton averaged more than 30 kicks per game throughout his career at the Fitzroy Lions, but perhaps the fact that best highlights his extraordinary performances is his polling of 122 Brownlow Medal Votes in only 119 VFL/AFL Games (an average of over 1 vote per Game Played), a feat superior to any other VFL/AFL Footballer who has ever played our Game. Bunton was also acknowledged as a scrupulously fair player, and the respect and admiration bestowed upon him was further enhanced when he befriended Aboriginal Footballer Doug Nicholls (later Sir Douglas Nicholls, Governor of South Australia), and warmly welcomed him to the Fitzroy Lions Den, when Race Relations were in disarray, this act being regarded as a most significant step forward at that time.
Haydn Bunton shocked the Victorian Public, when in 1938, at the height of his career, he chose to accept the role as Coach of Subiaco Football Club in Western Australia. The Bunton class was imprinted from the first Game in his new State, and he went on to win the revered Sandover Medal in years 1938, 1939 and 1941, which combined with his 3 Brownlow Medals, is an achievement that has never been equalled, and in my opinion , clearly sets Haydn Bunton Senior at the zenith of Australian Rules Footballers to have played the game. Bunton was to play 72 Games with Subiaco and kicked 190 Goals.
After the Second World War Bunton transferred to South Australia where he tried Field Umpiring and Coached North Adelaide in 1947 and 1948. He then concentrated on his Employment Career in Insurance to create a sound future for his family, and he was selfless in his endeavours to provide assistance to disadvantaged members of his local community. Details of his kind gestures did not become known to the general public untill after Buntons untimely death at the age of 44 years, resulting from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident at Gawler, South Australia in 1955.
Haydn Bunton stood tall as a Legend of Australian Rules Football, proved to be an outstanding human being , and his Legacy is integral to the core of Australian Rules Football that many Club Supporters take for granted today.
Further Reading:- HAYDN BUNTON-Best and Fairest-The Greatest Legend in the History of Australian Rules Football – Author- Chris Donald- First Published in 2003, Pennon Publishing, P.O Box 136, Niddrie, Vic, 3042. National Library of Australia Cataloguing- 796.336092. –