HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Haydn Austin BUNTON (JUN)
|Date of Birth||5th April 1937|
GAMES: 323: North Adelaide 54; Norwood 97; Swan Districts 90; Subiaco 59; Launceston 1; WA 11; SA 11
PREMIERSHIPS: Swan Districts captain-coach 1961-63; Subiaco coach 1986,88
HONOURS: Sandover Medal 1962; Swan Districts fairest and best 1961-63; captain 1961 carnival team; coach Norwood 1957-58, 65-67, Swan Districts 1961-64, South Adelaide 1975-82,Subiaco 1968-72, 84-92, Sturt 1993-94; Member Halls of Fame AFL, SANFL, WAIS
One of the most enduring images in WA is a bloodied Swan Districts captain-coach being chaired off Subiaco Oval after on of Swan Districts’ hat-trick of premierships. Swans were at last enjoying success and Haydn Bunton was the man responsible for it. He was one of the bravest footballers ever to pull on a boot. “I’ve seen him take some terrible knocks, some of them most unfair, and climb to his feet without even a backward glance to see who had flattened him,” said Jack Sheedy, himself no slouch in the courage stakes. “His every thought was for the ball and he’s taken some unnecessary punishment at times without ever trying to do anything about it.” Bunton said pain was all in the mind.
In 1968, when captain-coach of Subiaco, he split his scrotum before half-time but played on with a few stitches to help full forward Austin Robertson kick 15 goals for 157 in the season and a new Australian record. A short Bunton pass gave Robertson his final historical shot at goal in the last quarter. “It wasn’t all that savage an injury,” Bunton recalled. “I was pretty close to Robbie and I wanted to see him get those goals. We all moved heaven and earth to achieve it. But I spent the next week in the ocean trying t get the swelling down. It was never easy following his father, an official legend of the game. People often said: “He’ll never be as good as his father”. Perhaps he wasn’t but he was very special.
Born in Melbourne, he overcame polio to carve a special place in football history in SA and WA. A ball magnet, he nipped around the packs picking up possessions at will. His link with Swan Districts and one of WA football’s famous eras began in 1961 when he left SANFL club Norwood and signed on as captain-coach of the black and whites. Swans had won just two games and the wooden spoon in 1960, yet Bunton guided them to an upset win over competition giant East Perth. Significantly, he won the club’s fairest and best award in each of the premiership years. In 1962 he emulated his father’s feat by winning the Sandover Medal. Bunton always coached the football fundamentals – toughness and teamwork. Asked about that famous photo, a typically selfless Bunton said: “I would much rather see a picture of the whole team lined up than just me.