JIM BUCKLEY, 56, played 164 games for Carlton between 1976-1990, including in the 1979 and 1981-82 premierships. His son, DYLAN BUCKLEY, 23, was drafted by the Blues with pick 62 under the father-son rule in 2011 and had played 27 AFL games coming into season 2016. We spoke to Dylan about Jim and to Jim about Dylan.
“Dylan started out playing junior football in Essendon and then we moved to North Fitzroy and the Brunswick Street Oval is where he started to make his mark.
“Look he wasn’t that interested early on but it grew with his mates and like all good football clubs (Fitzroy Juniors) had a really good bonding of their mates playing together. They grew together and they grew as a side and they won a couple of premierships against the odds against better sides. After that the passion grew.
“(As a spectator) I was pretty laid back. In saying that, his mother can’t watch his games. She walks around the back. I think she does 100,000 steps or something like that. But I just watch him. I give him some tips. He’s got a couple of faults, but everybody’s got faults there’s no doubt about that. He just needs to progress through the game and become a better player, and that will develop as he becomes older and stronger and gets better players around him.
“You can give too much advice. I’ve seen fathers who can say too much, and the mothers can be the same. I just watch the game and hope he enjoys it and gets better with every game.
“I probably knew he could make it to AFL level when he was about 15 or 16. He was playing over here (for Fitzroy Juniors) and getting massive numbers. He was playing against really good kids and (the Yarra Junior Football League) was a strong competition. You could see that the kids he was playing against – kids like Dom Tyson and Tom Mitchell – were going to get drafted and Dylan could hold his own against them.
“It was nerve-wracking watching his first few AFL games. I think when I played my first game I was 68 kilos and Dylan was only 70 when he started. You’re playing against big men and the game’s so quick now.
“It was nerve-wracking watching his first few AFL games.”
– Jim on Dylan
“I missed his first goal. He was the sub and I went to the toilet and when I came out I heard this almighty roar around Etihad Stadium. I said ‘what in the hell’s happened?’ and (Carlton vice-president) Jeannie Pratt yelled out ‘your son’s just kicked a goal’ and hugged me. And I didn’t even know he’d got on yet. I still to this day reckon it would be the quickest goal that a first-game player has ever kicked in history.
“He’s a better mark than he’s been showing. He’s a beautiful kick and the tenacity is there, but he’s just got to show that marking and get more power in his running. Keep pushing himself and pushing himself. That’s where the great players come out.
“How would I go in the modern game? Well, the hours would probably knock me about a bit. The hours they put in now are just phenomenal – I think it’s too much, but that’s what you get paid for.
“All the meetings and that … you’re there at 7.30 in the morning until 5 o’clock at night. It’s a long drawn-out day.
“But in saying that footy hasn’t changed that much. It’s got quicker, they’ve changed the rules a bit and it’s become more predictable. I probably wouldn’t get away with a lot of the things we did in those days, but you’ve got to be smart and smart footballers always play good footy.
“(Jim grew up in Kyneton wanting to be a jockey) so horse racing has been a passion of mine for years, although it’s dropped off a bit lately. There’s no doubt that when I was playing I used to watch the scoreboard during games for the race results. I had the umpires betting with me and all.
“We used to enjoy ourselves. (Asked about Carlton’s visit to the Prime Minister’s residence, The Lodge, after winning the premiership, Buckley replied:) There were some funny stories up there. We went up there two years running. The first year was when some of the cutlery went missing. I don’t know if it’s been returned. The second year I missed the trip. I won the best-and-fairest in 1982 and had a long lunch and missed the plane. (Prime Minister and Blues fanatic) Malcolm Fraser got up and said ‘I’d like to congratulate Jim Buckley on winning the best and fairest’ and they said: ‘He’s not here. He’s posted you. He missed the plane’.’’
“My sister Jess and I used to go to the team shop at Princes Park and we knew a guy down there called Colin Kinnear who used to let my sister (Jess) and I pick out whatever we wanted once a year.
“Dad used to coach in Ballarat and I was born up there … I don’t remember too much about his football, it’s more just the stories that other people pass on. Not many I can share, though.
“When I first started playing I didn’t even know (he’d been a Carlton star). I just thought all dads played footy. It wasn’t until I started going around to some other kids’ houses and they’d start talking and I’d think ‘this might be a little bit weird, everybody knows who he is’. And still to this day if I’m walking around the streets people tell me to say g’day to my old man.
“Until I got to Carlton, and it was probably my second or third year that I really realised how much of an impact he’s had on the club and how much people really do respect him. I’m really proud of him for that.
“When I first started playing I didn’t even know (he’d been a Carlton star). I just thought all dads played footy.”
– Dylan on Jim
“He was really good as a spectator in juniors. I never really realised how lucky I was until I was a bit older and you used to have those dads who’d stand in the huddle and give a bit of advice as the coach was speaking. He would always stand back and just sort of let me do my own thing and we’d just have a chat at the end of the night.
“If I ever have any questions he’s more than willing to help me out. One thing I do know, if I ever have a good game he doesn’t say too much but I’ve stuffed up a bit he’ll let me know about it.
“Dad just loves footy, he loves watching me play. It’s something we share, we have a passion for it. It’s not really about winning or losing, it’s about having fun. He’s always said ‘just enjoy it, because if you don’t enjoy it there’s no point playing’.
“I think he would have been no chance whatsoever of playing in the modern era. He probably would have been drafted and retired after the first session of pre-season. I don’t think he would have been able to cope.
“We argue a bit when we watch the footy. He thinks some things should be happening. I try to explain to him that it’s not all about the ball, it’s also what happens off the footy and how guys are trying to set up. I suppose they use to do a bit of that but to an extent that’s where footy’s developed and it’s probably hard for people who are in and elite environment to understand those running patterns and the thing you do when you don’t have the ball.”