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Plugger, you Legend: Eight moments that defined Tony Lockett's record-breaking footy career

Hall Of Fame Legend: Tony Lockett All-time goals record holder and champion full-forward with Saints and Swans

1. The boy from Ballarat wins the Brownlow


It didn't take long for Tony Lockett to announce himself to the competition. After making his debut as a 17-year-old in 1983, he cracked the goalkicking ton for the first time with 117 majors in '87. When it came to that year's Brownlow Medal count he started slowly, polling just six votes over the first 14 rounds. However, he stormed home after booting 54 goals in the last eight games and shared the award with Hawthorn star John Platten on 20 votes. Lockett remains the only full-forward to win the game's highest individual honour. A superstar had arrived. 

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2. Eddie McGuire and his cameraman cop a crutch
With a physical presence unmatched by many players throughout AFL history, Lockett was a fearsome character who ensured opponents crossing his path on the lead did so at their own risk. But among many on-field incidents, there was an off-field episode in 1988 that has also became part of football folklore. While receiving treatment for a broken ankle, Lockett lost his temper and threw his crutches at TV reporter Eddie McGuire and his cameraman after they followed him inside the Mercy Hospital. The footage, which can be found on YouTube, has become an iconic part of the Lockett legend.

3. 'There's a pig at full-forward'

There may never be another moment in VFL/AFL history to match that of a pig running freely on the SCG during the Swans-Saints clash in round 18, 1993. Looking to put St Kilda's champion goalkicker – who ironically wasn't even playing but watching the match on television – off his game, a Swans fan released a pig with Lockett's No.4 and 'Plugga' painted on its side onto the field, causing commentator Sandy Roberts to exclaim: "There's a pig at full-forward". The swine eluded capture until Swans player Darren Holmes laid a strong tackle and the match resumed, but Lockett was incensed and vowed to make the Swans pay the next year. 

4. The best and worst of the big man in a single game

As mentioned above, Lockett became equally famous for his imposing presence as his goalkicking exploits. The 191cm colossus' playing weight was well over 100kg and if an opponent got in his way, look out. Probably the most unedifying of Lockett's biggest hits occurred in round seven, 1994 at the SCG when he elbowed Peter Caven in the face as the Swans player ran back with the flight of the ball. The incident – a year after the pig was released - sparked uproar and resulted in an eight-week suspension for Lockett, while Caven was out for 12 with a broken nose. The game showed Lockett at his worst and his best, with the champion booting 11.2 to lead the Saints' remarkable comeback from 51 points down to win by a point.

5. Saint hearts are broken
Rumours of Lockett leaving the Saints abounded in the latter stages of the 1994 season and sure enough one of the most famous trades in football history was completed later that year. Following the Caven incident, Lockett had regularly featured on the back page of Melbourne newspapers and seeking the anonymity of Sydney, absence of media scrutiny and the chance to play under Ron Barassi, the champion full-forward headed north. Lockett had kicked 898 goals in 183 games for St Kilda and only returned to the club in 2010 for the first time when he was elevated as a club Legend. 

6. Plugger proves a point

The Swans won the wooden spoon the season before Lockett arrived, but climbed to 12th after he booted 110 goals in 1995. Plugger backed up with 121 majors the next season, however it was a behind which made Swans history. With scores level in the dying seconds of a preliminary final against Essendon at the SCG, Lockett charged up the ground and marked on his chest 50m from goal. While he took stock of the shot before him, pulled up his socks and stretched his back, the final siren sounded. Lockett then started the familiar walk towards goal before unloading a kick from inside the centre square which sailed left but through for a point to propel the Swans to their first Grand Final in 51 years. Lockett booted six majors in the Grand Final, but the Swans lost to North Melbourne by 43 points. 

7. The greatest goalkicker of all time


Since 1937, Collingwood legend Gordon Coventry's record of 1299 goals had stood unbroken. So it was fitting that in round 10, 1999, Lockett climbed to the top of the goalkicking mountain in a match against the Pies. Deep into the first term, Lockett led into the forward pocket, marked on his chest and kicked a wobbly drop punt after the siren to stand alone as the game's greatest goalkicker. Fans ran from everywhere to celebrate the occasion. Lockett finished the game with 9.0 and after booting 82 majors for the year announced his retirement with 1357 goals from 278 games. 

8. One last hurrah

Amid much fanfare and after two years out of the game, Lockett made an ill-fated comeback for the Swans in 2002, saying he wanted to win a premiership. But the then 36-year-old's return lasted just three matches and he kicked only three goals before announcing his retirement for good. Plugger has since shied-away from most media attention, although he occasionally pops up at functions for both his former clubs, and he lives quietly near Bowral in New South Wales.

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