|Haydn Bunton Sr.|
|Full name||Haydn William Bunton|
|Date of birth||5 July 1911|
|Place of birth||Albury, New South Wales|
|Date of death||5 September 1955(aged 44)|
|Place of death||Adelaide, South Australia|
|Original team(s)||Albury Rovers, Albury, West Albury|
|Height||179 cm (5 ft 10 in)|
|Weight||73 kg (161 lb)|
|1931-1937, 1942||Fitzroy||119 (207)|
|1945||Port Adelaide||17 (30)|
|Representative team honours|
|1947-1948||North Adelaide||35 (13-21-0)|
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1945.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 1948.
|Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com|
Haydn William Bunton (5 July 1911 - 5 September 1955) was an Australian rules footballer who represented Fitzroy in the Victorian Football League (VFL), Subiaco in the West Australian Football League (WAFL), and Port Adelaide in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) during the 1930s and 1940s.
Bunton is the only footballer to have won the Brownlow Medal and the Sandover Medal three times each. He is one of only four footballers to have won the Brownlow three times (the others being Ian Stewart, Dick Reynolds and Bob Skilton), and one of only five footballers to have won the Sandover at least three times (the others being Bill Walker, who won it four times; and Barry Cable, Graham Farmer and Merv McIntosh, who each won it three times). Bunton is also the only player to have averaged one Brownlow vote per game over his career.
Like cricketer Don Bradman and the racehorse Phar Lap, Bunton was a sporting champion who made life bearable for the Australian public during the dark days of the Great Depression. A brilliant runner and ball-winner, he was regarded by some historians and observers of Australian rules as its greatest-ever player.
As a young teenager, Bunton excelled in - football, cricket, swimming and athletics, creating many records in a number of different sports.
Bunton began playing for the Albury Rovers Football Club as a 12 year old in 1923 and twice won the league's best and fairest award. After winning premierships with Albury Rovers in 1926 & 1927, he moved across to the Albury Football Club, although Bunton had earlier made his debut for the Albury Football Club in 1924, in the Ovens and Murray Football League as a 13 year old boy!
He played for the Albury Rovers Football Club in 1926 and 1927 in the Albury and Border Football Association and kicked 4 goals in their 1926 grand final win as a 15 year old and also played in their 1927 premiership win. He also won the club's best and fairest award in both 1926 and 1927.
In June, 1928, the Victorian Football League played a match against the Ovens and Murray Football League in Wangaratta and 16 year old Hayden Bunton was praised after the game by VFL captain, Frank Maher as "being able to hold his own in any league team".
In 1928, Bunton was best on ground for the Albury Football Club in their Ovens and Murray Football League grand final win against St. Patrick's FC. Bunton won the club's best and fairest award in 1928 too.
In 1929, the Albury Football Club entered two teams into the Ovens and Murray Football League (East & West Albury) and Bunton played for the West Albury Football Club in their 1929 Ovens and Murray Football League premiership side against East Albury and once again he was best on ground in the grand final.
It was at this point after starring in four consecutive senior football premierships, that his natural Australian football ability attracted the attention of all twelve VFL clubs.
In early 1930 Bunton was treated to a farewell dinner in the Albury Town Hall, after signing with the Fitzroy Cricket Club and Fitzroy Football Club.
Shortly after Fitzroy had won the race to secure his services, it was revealed that they had paid him £222 to join, which was illegal under VFL rules. He was subsequently disqualified for 12 months by the Victorian Football League's Permit Committee and unable to play during the 1930 VFL season for the Fitzroy Football Club despite several appeals. Bunton later stated in an 1950 newspaper article that he had received the money for a knee operation after he tore his cartilage in the 1930 Ovens and Murray Football League grand final. His initial, legal match payments were the modest sum of £2 per week.
He resisted offers from clubs in the Victorian Football Association (VFA) to play for them during the 1930 season, one club even offering him a brand-new car.
After finally receiving a permit to play back in the Ovens and Murray Football League for West Albury Football Club in June, 1930, Bunton was appointed captain/coach and later played in his fifth consecutive grand final. The match was against the Hume Weir Football Club who proved too good and defeated West Albury for the premiership. Bunton once again played a starring role up until just before half time when he injured his knee and took no further part in the match.
Bunton played as a rover/follower and achieved instant success, winning Brownlow Medals in his first two seasons (1931 and 1932) in the VFL. He worked in a department store during the day, and practised baulking by weaving his way through crowds of shoppers. One of his opponents, Dick Reynolds, spied on him during this activity in order to learn how to defeat his technique.
During his career at Fitzroy, Bunton won five club best-and-fairest awards, in addition to his Brownlows. He was appointed captain of Fitzroy in 1932. He was runner-up for the Brownlow Medal in 1934, then won the award for a third time in 1935. While playing, Bunton also spent the 1936 VFL season as senior coach at Fitzroy, but could only manage two wins. He was also Fitzroy's leading goalkicker in 1936 and 1937.
In 1938, Bunton moved to Western Australia, taking the position of captain/coach of Subiaco, while very competitive, they failed to play finals during his coaching stints of 1938, 1939 and 1941.
Altogether, Bunton had won six league best and fairest awards in only eleven seasons between the two states in which he had played.
Corporal Haydn Bunton returned to Melbourne from Perth to enter the Army's Physical Training School at Frankston and was accompanied by four Fitzroy Football Club recruits from Western Australian in April, 1942.
Bunton returned back to his Army unit in Perth in late May, 1942.
Bunton played in the 18 team Services Football competition in Perth which was divided into a ten team A. grade and eight team B. Grade competition.
After being discharged from army service at the end of World War II at the age of 33 he joined Port Adelaide and played 17 games during the 1945 SANFL season. Bunton would form a formidable duo with Bob Quinn helping Port Adelaide attract record crowds for the season. At the end of the minor round Port Adelaide had lost only two games finishing up with a percentage of 133. Bunton would play in the first final of his career with Port Adelaide in their second semi final win against Norwood in front of 36,383 spectators at Adelaide Oval. Bunton would kick 2 goals during the match. The win against Norwood in the second semi final qualified Port Adelaide for the 1945 SANFL Grand Final against West Torrens. During the first quarter of the 1945 SANFL Grand Final, Port Adelaide kicked a record quarter time score for a SANFL Grand Final of 8.1 (51). However this was not enough for Bunton to win his first premiership as a player with Port Adelaide falling short by 13 points to West Torrens. The 1945 SANFL Grand Final would be Haydn Bunton Sr's last match in senior football. Bunton would be awarded two Magarey Medal votes during his 17 games for Port Adelaide in 1945 thus achieving the rare feat of garnering votes in the VFL, WAFL and SANFL.
On Monday, 3 March 1947 the North Adelaide Football Club appointed Haydn Bunton as senior non playing coach. North Adelaide finished in 6th position in 1947 and in 5th position in 1948. Bunton resigned as coach after the last home and away game in September, 1948. Interestingly, North Adelaide Football Club went onto win the 1949 SANFL premiership, coached by Ken Farmer.
Haydn Bunton was the most outstanding batsman in the Albury and Border Cricket Association, with an average of 149 in the 1927/28 season and averaged 127 in 1928/29 and his services were sort by many Melbourne District Cricket Clubs.
In December, 1928, Bunton (144), was involved in a 280 run, second wicket partnership with William "Cassie" Andrews (146) from Maitland in a Sydney Country Week Cricket Carnival match on the Sydney Cricket Ground between a combined country week team and a combined Sydney first grade team.
Bunton commenced playing Melbourne district cricket for the Fitzroy Cricket Club during the 1930/31 season, and scored 104 against Prahran on Saturday, 9 January 1932. Bunton played for Fitzroy CC in their losing 1931/32 - Melbourne District Cricket grand final against St. Kilda Cricket Club.
All up he played 25 x first eleven games for Fitzroy CC between 1930/31 and 1933/34.
It appears, unfortunately that Bunton played very little competition cricket after 1934.
He spent the 1946 SANFL season as an SANFL football field umpire and earned a very good reputation in such a short time, umpiring the 1946 SANFL Preliminary Final, with many believing he was very stiff not to umpire the grand final, the following week.
In 1949, 1950 and 1951 Bunton was the feature football writer for the Adelaide newspaper, The Mail.
On Thursday 1 September 1955, Bunton was critically injured when his car crashed into three gum trees eleven miles north of Gawler, South Australia. He was alone in the car, and was treated at the scene for severe head injuries, a punctured lung, a fractured collarbone, fractured ribs and shock. On the Saturday morning he rallied slightly to encourage his son Haydn Jr. in an important match for North Adelaide that day. "Go out and do your best, son." Bunton was declared dead on the night of Monday 5 September at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He was buried at North Road Cemetery in Nailsworth, South Australia.
During his playing career, Bunton was considered by fans of the sport as a player of integrity, who rarely if ever engaged in unduly rough play. His fame was enhanced by him having his own radio show on 3DB, and a Melbourne newspaper column, when he played with Fitzroy. He later had radio programs in Perth and Adelaide. He was regarded as a sex symbol in the 1930s, and his looks were compared to those of film star Rudolf Valentino. During his period with Fitzroy he was naturally a marked man, but almost perfect balance enabled him to keep out of trouble. He had uncanny ball sense and great speed, was a fine mark, and an accurate, if not outstanding, kick. The Secretary of Fitzroy, J. Buckley, said of Bunton: "Haydn was the greatest player ever to wear the Fitzroy jersey. He had unlimited stamina, courage, and was the quickest thinker I have ever seen." Bunton once played with Don Bradman in a New South Wales country cricket team, and in the early 1930s, Bunton was regarded as a possible Test cricketer.
Bunton married Lylia Frances Austin at Scots' Church on 22 February 1936.
Bunton re-married Lylia Bunton at the Adelaide Registry Office on Saturday, 7 September 1946 in a closed secret ceremony.
Lylia died suddenly at home on 25 December 1954 at the age of 42.
Bunton's brother, Cleaver Bunton, was a long-serving mayor of Albury, and was also a senator for a short time in 1975. Cleaver was the first Ovens & Murray Football League life member - 1980, played in West Albury's 1929 premiership team, O&MFL treasurer 1953 to 1993, O&MFL secretary 1930 to 1969 and again in 1976, founder and editor of "The Critic" from 1924 to 1990, longest serving administrator in Australian Rules Football history, founder of Albury Umpires Association, established sporting broadcasts on radio and was the first to broadcast Ovens & Murray football; the O&MFL cub championship award is named after him.