Gary Buckenara’s ability and temperament were tested on a variety of
football stages during his brilliant career, and not once did he fail to win a
WA amateurs, the WAFL, VFL-AFL and State matches, the sublimely skilled
half-forward-midfielder with a textbook kick, was a gilt-edged star of the
game, winning honours at each level of competition.
became a poster boy for the WA Amateur Football League when he joined Teachers
Training College Churchlands in 1976, and played 50 games over three seasons,
and subsequently was inducted into the WAAFL Hall of Champions.
When Subiaco introduced him to WAFL level as a 20-year-old in 1979 he
didn’t miss a beat, coming second in the Lions best and fairest for three
successive seasons before he was recruited by Hawthorn. Despite playing only 61
games for Subiaco, Buckenara’s impact was so profound that he was included in
the club’s Team of the Century and also in 2015 he was named as one of
Subiaco’s Ball Legends.
Undaunted in the heat of the VFL cauldron, Buckenara stepped up a notch
again to become one of the Hawks prime movers when they had a garage full of
Rolls Royces. He celebrated four premierships that featured VFL-AFL royalty,
with players such as Dermott Brereton, Jason Dunstall, John Platten, Gary
Ayres, Peter Knights, Chris Langford, Michael Tuck and Robert DiPierdomenico to
name but a few.
Buckenara’s performances demonstrated that he was comfortable in elite
company, and he highlighted his worth by booting four goals in both Hawthorn’s
1986 and 1989 premierships.
And, to further prove a point about his ability to excel at all levels,
Buckenara kicked eight goals in Hawthorn’s VFL Reserves grand final victory
over Carlton in 1985.
The description by legendary coach Allan Jeanes, who was not lavish in
his praise of players, that Buckenara was the Hawks’ best big game player was
emphasised in the 1987 AFL preliminary final when the gifted forward calmly
slotted the winning goal after the siren – after Jim Stynes conceded a 15m
Following his splendid 154-game career with Hawthorn, which included
three all-Australian jumpers, Buckenara was named in the Hawks Team of the
Century and also inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame.
At State level, Buckenara also excelled, winning the Simpson Medal
against SA in 1981, and kicking seven goals in the 1983 State of Origin match
against Victoria. He played 11 times for WA, captained his State in 1988 and
1989, and was often listed in the best three WA players.
Buckenara, who played 226 games
overall, was one of the inaugural inductees into the WA Hall of Fame in 2004.