Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
William Philip Burns

Known as
Bill Burns

19 August 1884

17 June 1955 (aged 70)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 20y 1d
Last game: 31y 268d

Height and weight
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 74 kg

Senior clubs
Geelong; Richmond; West Perth; East Fremantle

Jumper numbers
Richmond: 7

Recruited from
South Bendigo (1908); Richmond (1910); West Perth (1912); Richmond (1914); East Fremantle (1916); Richmond (1917)

Bill Burns

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
RichmondV/AFL1908-1909, 1912-1913, 191653100.1928%0
West PerthWAFL1910300.00
East FremantleWAFL1914, 1917-1923104180.17
V/AFL1904, 1908-1909, 1912-1913, 191655100.1827%0
WAFL1910, 1914, 1917-1923107180.17
Total1904, 1908-1910, 1912-1914, 1916-1923162280.17

AFL: 991st player to appear, 3,977th most games played, 4,873rd most goals kickedGeelong: 117th player to appear, 943rd most games played, 851st most goals kickedRichmond: 3rd player to appear, 298th most games played, 387th most goals kicked

Originally from South Bendigo, William Burns had a first stab at VFL football in 1904 with Geelong, but he managed just a couple of games before returning home. Four years later he resumed his league career when he appeared on a half back flank for Richmond in that club's first ever VFL fixture at home to Melbourne. In 1909 his career appeared to be over when he was suspended for life for kicking an opponent, but this does not appear to have prevented him from playing 3 games for West Perth in 1910. In 1912, following an appeal, the VFL officially rescinded the ban and he resumed with the Tigers.

Hardy, tenacious and quick, he spent the 1914 season with East Fremantle, and was on a half forward flank in the winning Grand Final against local rivals South Fremantle. He also represented Western Australia at the 1914 Sydney carnival where he played in all five matches and booted f4 goals. Burns returned to Richmond in 1916, taking his final tally of VFL games with the club to 53. 

From 1917 to 1923 he was a key member of a powerful East Fremantle combination that won the 1918 premiership and then played off in four of the next five Grand Finals, only to lose them all. Burns was a wingman for most of this time, and ended up playing a total of 107 WAFL games (all but three for Old Easts).

Author - John Devaney


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