Geoff Burdett was the 70s Orzazio Fantasia, minus the BT wanking
So I got to thinking, after watching Josh Green hobble off a couple of weeks back and commence prayers for the fit return of *queue BT* voice ORAZIO FANTASIA, who are some other lesser known small forwards that have donned the sash? The boy from Tassie Brad Plain was one. The real life Super Mario Bros Alwyn Davy was another. Then the name Geoff Burdett jumped out at me = a boy from the Mallee, who loved sport and was lured to Melbourne to pursue a dream.
He was approached to play with Essendon in the VFL and in 1975 ventured to Melbourne. It was a big call to leave a family farm, Essendon paid his Dad some $$, Geoff too and Bob’s your Auntie he signed up. He played 7 games in 1976, none of note as a 19yo, which he backed up with 4 more in 1977, until a break out year in 1978!
What was the catalyst, who knows, perhaps it was his move to #7, having donned #45 & #15 in his first 2 seasons. Yes in 1978, as a young boy, I watched Geoff play most of his 20 games, well those played at Windy Hill anyway. Playing as a lively small forward (174cm) he kicked 37 goals (27 behinds) for the year, including a bag of 5 in Round 4 against Carlscum.
That year, another similar player, Wayne Primmer (ahh, he’s due a write up!), won the EFC goal kicking with 47 majors, a young Terry Daniher kicked 46, S. Madden snagged 40 and young Geoff slotting in 4th with his 37 sausage rolls.
He must have headed back to the farm at the end of 1978 (not an uncommon occurrence back in the day), as his next senior games came in 1981, under K Sheedy. 1981 was an incredible year for the Bombers, you all no doubt recall we lost 5 of our first 6 games, then won 15 in a row to make the finals! Just a side note, we only just missed the double chance (3rd) by a small percentage, lost the Elimination final to the Roys and the Blues won the Premiership who we had beaten twice that year. Yes the famous Neale Daniher game was one of those in Round 20… But I digress…
Back to Geoff Burdett, he played in the 1981 night Grand Final (Bombers won, so that was 3 wins over Carlton in 1981!!), the same game Tim Watson jumped over an opponent which won him a car, and he was reported for striking Carlton’s Wayne Johnson. He got two weeks and Sheedy pulled him aside after that and said he’d better go home and put the crop in, so he did. And that was the end, after only a further 6 games, 1981 was Burdett’s last with the Bombers.
His father Keith died in 1982 and from the end of ’81 to 1998 he was committed to the life of farming in the southern Mallee.
Well played Geoff, he was there to witness the beginning of a new era, with players that are now legends of our great club.