AFL fans have been very spoilt to have witnessed so many incredible Indigenous players over the years, and those to have pulled on the brown and gold guernsey are as talented as you can imagine.
From 1957, when Cyril Collard first pulled on the brown and gold guernsey, to 2020, where the likes of Shaun Burgoyne, Chad Wingard and Jarman Impey have all shared some incredible moments both on and off the field that have excited and united us, Hawthorn fans have been blessed to watch and learn from many Indigenous role models.
As we head into the 2020 edition of Sir Doug Nicholls Round, let’s look back and celebrate some of the incredible footballing achievements of our past and present Indigenous players.
Where it all began:
Cyril Collard, a proud Noongar man from Western Australia, became the first Indigenous Australian to wear the brown and gold when he ran out in Round 1 1957. His debut was highly anticipated; Collard had attempted to join Hawthorn the year prior after moving from WA to Victoria, however his former club Subiaco refused to give him clearances and he was forced to sit out for the 1956 season.
After a successful appeal to the Australian National Football Council, he was cleared to play and officially became a Hawk. Collard was close to best afield in his debut game against Carlton.
After 13 games across two seasons, Collard hung up the boots to focus on his running – a sport in which he would make three Stawell gift finals.
Seven All Australian blazers have been awarded to Indigenous players wearing the brown and gold. The first came in 2008, when Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin capped off his famous 100-goal season. Franklin was named in four All Australian sides while playing for the Hawks (2008, 2010, 2011, 2012), while his teammate Cyril Rioli was the deserving recipient of the other three (2012, 2015, 2016).
Current Hawk Shaun Burgoyne is also an All Australian player, having received the nod for a fantastic season in 2006, while playing in the black, white and teal.
Speaking of Burgoyne, there are only a handful of players in the history of the league that have shown as much resilience and longevity as this man. He holds the league record for most games played by an Indigenous player (385) and, despite playing nine seasons in a different jumper, he also holds this record at Hawthorn (228). What an absolute blessing this man has been to football.
After Burgoyne, Rioli is the next to have worn the brown and gold guernsey on the most occasions (187), followed by Chance Bateman (177), who in 2008 became the first Indigenous Hawk to reach his 100-game milestone.
The Hawks currently have five Indigenous talents on its list; superstar Shaun Burgoyne, excitement machine Chad Wingard, pacey rebounder Jarman Impey, and untried but promising youngsters Mat Walker and Harrison Pepper.
Other key facts:
Most Brownlow votes by a Hawthorn Indigenous player – Lance Franklin (82)
Norm Smith Medallist – Cyril Rioli (2015)
Coleman Medallist – Lance Franklin (2008, 2011)
Premiership medallions – 14 (Rioli – 4, Burgoyne – 3, Bradley Hill – 3, Franklin – 2, Mark Williams - 1, Bateman - 1)
Hawthorn fans are incredibly lucky to have seen so many incredible Indigenous role models and talents pull on the brown and gold guernsey overs the years, with the last decade particularly fruitful.
The most exciting part?
This is just the beginning of the journey.
Hawthorn Football Club is proud to partner with the Epic Good Foundation to bring the club's Indigenous programs to life. Together. Always.