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Haydn William Bunton (1911–1955)

by W. F. Mandle

This article was published:

Haydn William Bunton (1911-1955), footballer, was born on 5 July 1911 at Albury, New South Wales, son of Ernest Edward Bunton, brickmaker, and his wife Matilda Caroline, née Luhrs, both Victorian-born. An outstanding footballer, cricketer and athlete in his youth at Albury, Bunton attracted the attention of many Melbourne football clubs. Fitzroy finally signed him (for both football and cricket) in 1930, but accusations by disappointed clubs that illegal payments had been made caused the Victorian Football League's permit committee to refuse to allow him to play until 1931. Fresh allegations from a disgruntled secretary of the administratively troubled Fitzroy club revived in 1933 the investigation into payments to Bunton. He and his club were found guilty, but Bunton was merely 'admonished'.

Generally as a rover and wearing the number 7, he played 117 games for Fitzroy, and kicked 208 goals. He was 5 ft 9 ins (175 cm) in height and weighed about 11½ stone (73 kg). The results of a competition held in Melbourne in 1935 for a suitable nickname suggest his qualities: first 'Beau', second 'Tracker', and third 'Pearler'. Statistics indicate that in 1933 he usually won about 25 kicks a game, took 10 marks, and scored infrequently, although in one match he kicked 8 goals (out of 12) against Collingwood, roved all day, and was presented with the ball; 'so he should have been', said an opponent, 'he had the—thing all afternoon'.

Most observers commented upon his balance, his ball-handling which at times 'bordered on the freakish', and his ability to avoid bumps and tackles. Bunton was a good and accurate but not a long kick, and he eschewed the then fashionable drop-kick. He rarely conceded a free kick, and his handsome brilliance was matched by his scrupulous fairness. Hence he won the Brownlow medal for the fairest and best V.F.L. player in 1931, 1932 and in 1935; in 1934 he was runner-up.

In 1938 Bunton went to Perth to play with Subiaco and there won the Sandover medal in 1938, 1939 and 1941. After service in the army in 1942-44, he played for North Adelaide in 1945 (making his only appearance in a finals game with them), and coached the same club in 1947 and 1948. He died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital on 5 September 1955 from the effects of a car crash, and was buried in North Road cemetery, Nailsworth. His wife, Lylia Frances, née Austin, whom he had married at Scots Church, Melbourne, on 22 February 1936, had died suddenly in Adelaide on Christmas Day 1954.

Bunton's career outside football was undistinguished. At various times he was a shop-assistant, a theatre-manager, a car salesman, and at the end an insurance agent. A popular and generous man, 'he was always good for a bite'. His elder brother Cleaver became mayor of Albury and briefly senator for New South Wales.

Select Bibliography

  • Sporting Globe, 7 June 1930, May, June, 4 Oct 1933, 7 Sept 1955
  • Herald (Melbourne), 8 Oct 1937, 12 Apr 1952, 6 Sept 1955.

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Citation details

W. F. Mandle, 'Bunton, Haydn William (1911–1955)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 23 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

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