Anthony Francis Buhagiar
The little budgie
3 October 1955 (age 67)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 25y 176d
Last game: 29y 353d
Height and weight
Height: 166 cm
Weight: 74 kg
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
|East Fremantle||WAFL||1973-1980, 1986||138||274||1.99||—||—||—||—||—|
AFL: 9,212th player to appear, 2,165th most games played, 523rd most goals kickedEssendon: 883rd player to appear, 216th most games played, 53rd most goals kickedFootscray: 752nd player to appear, 426th most games played, 170th most goals kicked
Despite his diminutive stature - TV commentator Lou Richards famously dubbed him "the little budgie"- Tony Buhagiar was worth the equivalent of his weight in gold to three league clubs during his career. He began with East Fremantle, earning the nod for best afield from many pundits in that club's 1979 Grand Final win over arch rival South Fremantle, and finishing runner-up to Brian Peake in the following season's Lynn Medal voting. He also represented Western Australia in interstate and state of origin matches and earned All Australian selection after the 1979 Perth carnival before moving to Essendon in the VFL in 1981.
In four seasons and 83 games with the Bombers Buhagiar became a firm fan favourite for his pluck, determination, skill and never-say-die attitude. His feat in kicking 135 goals during those four seasons highlights another key aspect of his play, namely the considerable danger he posed to opposition sides when resting up forward. Injuries in mid-1984 led to a slight dip in form and although he put in a solid game in the Preliminary Final against Collingwood, he was desperately unlucky to miss a place in the winning Grand Final team against Hawthorn the next week.
Disappointed by the untimely axing, Buhagiar parted ways with Bombers at the end of the year and joined the emerging Footscray for the 1985 season. He played every game that year for the Bulldogs and was a key factor in their push to the Preliminary Final. However, he choose to return home to Western Australia in 1986, and rejoin his old team East Fremantle where he rounded off his playing days by bringing his final tally of games with that club to 138.
Author - John Devaney with additional material from Adam Cardosi