Tony Lockett – Retired Australian Rules Football Player

Tony Lockett, popularly known as ‘Plugger’ was one of the most decorated players of Australian Rules and scored more than a thousand goals in VFL/AFL.

Born on March 9, 1966, Anthony Howard “Tony” Lockett played a total of 281 games in VFL/AFL and is the only player to have kicked 1,360 goals throughout his playing career. He played to two clubs – St Kilda and Sydney Swans and has achieved the status of a legend after being inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame. He played at full-forward position and is the only player to have ever won the Brownlow Medal playing in that position.

Playing Career

1982-1994: St Kilda

748847-tony-lockettPrior to his VFL debut, Lockett played for North Ballarat Football Club. He was a member of under 12s team when he joined the club in year 1974. By the age of 16, he had played 120 junior games and 5 senior games for the club. He was then recruited by the VFL football club St Kilda in year 1982. He made his debut in 1983 and 8 years later in 1991 he played his best ever game for St Kilda when he played a total of 17 games and kicked a total of 127 goals. He maintained an average of 7.47 goals in each game, which is till date a record in VFL/AFL history. In 1991 season, St Kilda reached the finals for the first time since 1973 because of Lockett’s extraordinary performance. However, St Kilda was beaten by Geelong by 7 points despite the fact that Lockett kicked five behinds and nine goals in that particular game. From 1983 to 1994, Lockett played a total of 183 games for St Kilda and scored a total of 898 goals.

1995-2002: Sydney Swans

1994 season was last for Lockett with St Kilda and in 1995; he started playing for Sydney Swans. For Swans, Lockett turned out to be key to instant success. He helped Swans reach the finals. It was during his career with Swans that Lockett delivered his career-best goal-kicking performance in a single game. It was in 1995 season’s Round 19 when Lockett kicked a total of 16 goals against Fitzroy at Western Oval.

The 1996 season saw one of the largest pitch invasions ever in history of Australian Rules. In that season, Swans clashed with Geelong. On Geelong’s side was Gary Ablett who earned the nickname ‘God’ and on the Swans’ side was Lockett. Media pitched the match as Plugger vs. God instead of Swans vs. Geelong. The match was played at Sydney Cricket Ground. Lockett was at his best and in that game he broke the record set by Gordon Coventry. Gordon scored 1299 goals throughout his career. Lockett scored his 1,300th goal in that particular match surpassing Gordon’s record.

Lockett decided to retire from the VFL in 1999 after he had scored 1,357 goals. However, he made a brief comeback in 2002, played just 3 games, and kicked 3 goals, setting a record of 1,360 goals, which is yet to be broken by any AFL player. Lockett played a total of 98 games for Swans and kicked 462 goals in total.

Post-Retirement Career

Lockett always managed to avoid media and had been very elusive after his retirement. However, did make some appearances in TV commercials such as Lowes Menswear and Advanced Hair. Tony also made an appearance with Toyota Memorable Moments. Lockett also had interests in Greyhound Racing and was said to be a part owner of Brett Lee (a famous dog in Greyhound Racing) which was worth a million Australian dollars.

Awards And Achievements

Lockett’s legacy cannot be touched easily. He was definitely one of the finest players to have every played in VFL/AFL history. Here are some of his extraordinary achievements that will be remembered as long as AFL will remain:

  • Lockett holds an AFL record of scoring more than 100 goals in a season. He did that 6 times!
  • In 1987, he won the Brownlow Medal. He is the only full-forward player ever to win this medal.
  • He holds the record of highest number of goals in AFL history with a total of 1,360 in 281 matches.
  • In 1987, he won the Leigh Matthews Trophy.
  • Lockett won the Coleman Medal in 1987, 1991, 1996 and 1998.
  • He was a member of the All-Australian team in years 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1998.
  • In 1987 and 1991, he won the Trevor Barker Award.
  • In 1995, he won the Bob Skilton Medal.
  • In 2001 and 2003 was inducted in Team of the Century of St Kilda and Sydney Swans respectively.
  • In 2004, Lockett was inducted into the Hall of Fame of North Ballarat Football Club.
  • In 2006, he was inducted into Australian Football Hall of Fame.
  • In 2003, Lockett was inducted into the Hall of Fame of St Kilda Football Club.
  • In 2010, he earned the Legend status in St Kilda Football Hall of Fame.
  • In 2009, Lockett was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Sydney Swans.
  • Etihad Stadium’s goal end is named after Lockett as Lockett End. The other end is named after Gordon Coventry whose record was broken by Lockett in 1996 season.

Tony Lockett will remain a source of inspiration for all full-forward players in AFL. He was a legendary player whose fame will outlive him. He was one of the most decorated players to have ever played in Australian Rules and there are only a few who can get close to him. We may have to wait for years before anyone breaks some of the records held by Lockett and when that happens, it will be an absolute treat because we will know that another legend has appeared from the crowd!

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