He started his football journey by kicking up and down the alleys of Port Lincoln as he walked to school with his brother Peter.
He was just 11 when he played alongside Peter (who played with Shaun in 2004 premier during his 240-game career with Port Adelaide) in an Under-17 premier. years with Mallee Park, a Port Lincoln Native club that spawned the Burgoynes, Byron Pickett, Eddie Betts and Graham Johncock. “We just live and breathe [football], to be honest, ”Burgoyne said.
He played his first AFL game on April 14, 2002, before the birth of five of his Hawthorn teammates. Denver Grainger-Barras, who made his debut last Sunday, was born three days later and his coach Alastair Clarkson was still coaching the SANFL Central District. Since then, Burgoyne has averaged 20 games per season for 20 years, changing clubs and states in late 2009 with a knee that Hawks doctor Peter Baquie couldn’t guarantee would stay healthy for three seasons.
He had to work hard to build his stamina while displaying the skills that earned him the nickname “Silk” and the mental toughness to play anywhere except the ruck. His legend is built around his ability to influence the results, whether in stoppage of play, or when a key goal needs to be kicked, as in the last quarter of the 2013 preliminary final, when he placed the Hawks in front of Geelong with six minutes remaining and Kennett’s curse was finally crushed.
A key component of Hawthorn’s community program, he is a member of the AFL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Advisory Board and the AFLPA Aboriginal Advisory Board. He also founded ASC Indigenous, a cleaning and waste management company.
“Creating employment opportunities for Indigenous people and helping lives is obviously something close to my heart and I’m passionate about it,” said Burgoyne.
Then there is the family, his wife Amy and their four children Nixie, Leni, Ky and Percy, who remain at the heart of his being.
“Amy is the reason I still play soccer and why I came to Hawthorn. Why I continue,” said Burgoyne.
A famous export
Burgoyne’s father, Peter Snr, was a successful local footballer with Tasman in the Port Lincoln Football League, winning two Mail medals for the league’s best and fairest in the 1970s and playing with Port Adelaide and in the Northern Territory for St Mary’s.
Burgoyne enjoyed being a part of the town’s native community growing up playing football, camping, fishing and, in his words, “hanging out”. Much of that time was spent with Johncock, who made his debut for Adelaide a fortnight before Burgoyne and retired eight years ago after 227 games.
“We were going to camp at a place called Sheringa, towards Ceduna, sometimes behind Ceduna,” Burgoyne said.
At its beginnings
“There are a lot of players that I feel lucky to have played with or against in my career. I have a tape from Port Adelaide and every now and then I put it back to see what football was like in the early 2000s, ”said Burgoyne.
His debut against St Kilda came in the third round, 2002, more than a year after being drafted. The game featured three future senior coaches, one future AFLW coach, four assistant coaches and a roster manager. Nick Riewoldt, who was playing his ninth game, was born four days earlier than Burgoyne. In 2017, Riewoldt became the last of 43 other players to retire that day.
Former Port Adelaide teammates remember Burgoyne languishing at the back in his first preseason, but as soon as the balls came out they knew they had a star from the future.
“I don’t know why I never had endurance. I always had to work hard on that side. I was always fast and I had explosive speed and my brother Peter had a mix of endurance and speed, ”said Burgoyne.
“I was always at the back of training. I used to get yelled at a lot, but the feedback you got back then was very different from what you get today. Today you don’t really get harsh comments. Sometimes when they get feedback these days they think it’s hard, but I’m like “you probably don’t know what a hard comment is.”
“At that point, it was (hard to take). Looking back, this is exactly what I needed and deserved. I managed with pure competence.
Burgoyne bursts out laughing at his last sentence, uncomfortable admitting what was obvious to anyone who saw him play.
Andrew Russell, who is now at Carlton after being alongside Burgoyne at Port and Hawthorn, was a driving force, while the club’s senior players, such as Burgoyne’s favorite player, Gavin Wanganeen, as well as Matthew Primus, Brent Montgomery, Warren Tredrea and Michael Wilson helped him lay the foundation for success.
“I got into a team that was very focused but had a good mix of drinking a few beers and training hard,” said Burgoyne.
400 games, two coaches
“There are a lot of similarities between ‘Choco’ (Mark Williams in Port Adelaide) and Clarko (Alastair Clarkson in Hawthorn). They are both very passionate, very vocal and very motivated, ”said Burgoyne.
“I love their hassle-free approach, directly in your face and telling him how it is. I don’t like it when people beat around the bush. Just say it.
“Choco and Clarko were both straightforward and fierce when needed, but there’s a lighter side to these two guys.
“I don’t like it when people beat around the bush. Just say it.
The presence of Clarkson, Russell, Geoff Morris and Chris Pelchen – all Port alumni – in Hawthorn helped Burgoyne pick the Hawks when he left Port Adelaide in late 2009.
With less than a minute to go in an epic 2004 preliminary final against St Kilda, Port Adelaide led by a goal as they tried to make their way to their first AFL Grand Final, after being knocked out at this stage the previous two seasons.
A kick from St Kilda’s Riewoldt wiped out a squad and Brent Guerra – who later played alongside Burgoyne in Hawthorn’s top team in 2013 – ran for the loose ball in goal square and tried to get it through. Burgoyne threw himself on the ball and pushed it out of bounds.
“It would be a free kick today,” he said. “I had cramps in both calves and couldn’t run, but I managed to choke them. We had so much pressure on us after choking the year before and if we don’t win I don’t know what was going to happen.
A crushing defeat
Burgoyne scored the last goal of the 2007 grand final to reduce the defeat margin to 119 points.
“It was a really hollow feeling. We did really well to get to this game and we just didn’t play and we had a shocking day, to be honest an embarrassing day but I was still proud of our club for getting there, s’ to be put on the line and to have cracked. Geelong was just exceptional, ”said Burgoyne.
Winner of the match
Geelong had recorded 11 straight wins over Hawthorn following the defeat in the 2008 grand final and scored the last three goals in the third quarter of the 2013 preliminary final to head to the final break with a 20-point lead over Hawthorn, who lost the 2011 preliminary final by three. points and the 2012 grand final of 10 points.
“I remember people saying we have nothing to lose, we have to get the game back, then other guys say we don’t have to win the game in the first minute, we have a quarterback to score three goals, ”said Burgoyne. says discussions of three quarters of the time.
“It was strange because we felt like we were going to win.”
At the end of the final quarter, Burgoyne won a head-to-head over Andrew Mackie, then handed the ball over to Jack Gunston who scored a goal to bring the Hawks back to five points before Gunston returned the favor and Burgoyne on a tight angle, and under extreme pressure, kicked straight away while running to give his team the advantage.
“I probably scored a few goals that were more exciting, but in terms of significance it was probably that one,” said Burgoyne.
Hawthorn won the next three flags.
Always the same
Only Michael Tuck, with 39 finals, has made more finals than Burgoyne, who recorded 20 wins and 15 losses in 35 finals, winning four flags, losing two big finals and three prelims along the way as well as being part of Hawthorn’s straight series releases in 2016 and 2018.
He says reviewing these games is essential.
“Face the music. If you lose you have to know why you lost and if you won you want to know why you won because you want to duplicate it.
Secrets of success
Burgoyne had 18 clearances in a game against Collingwood in 2008 and is known as a puller who could run out before a stoppage. He says the connection between the ruckman and his midfielders is key, as he credits Port Primus ruckmen Brendon Lade and Dean Brogan to play in his early development.
“They could hit him anywhere and just say ‘go ahead and you’ll love me’,” Burgoyne said, laughing. “I also used to enter these contests as fast as I could.”
He still does, having spent more than half of his life playing for the AFL.