The AFL Hall of Fame’s revered credibility lies in the greats that are yet to be inducted, rather than the ones already enshrined.
This adds a mystique to the institution by the names from the past that are absent as well as the ones from the present that are deemed worthy of such prestige.
One such name that deserves pondering is Shaun Burgoyne.
On reading Burgoyne’s name, most will dismiss it with an eyebrow raise and a hearty guffaw.
Understandable, for Burgoyne’s ongoing 269 game career at both Port Adelaide and Hawthorn, where he has been pivotal in three premierships, is rarely given proper respect.
The reason behind this is he is an ambiguous entity as a player – with few, if any able to properly rank him, or conversely, not realising just how good he is.
A rare combination of the rugged and the pretty. He captivates with his silken skill, and time that allows him an on-field composure that few rival, but, he is just as effective at getting down and dirty with his dexterity in the one percenters.
Amongst the best in the AFL at crisis management, with him equally adept at smothering spot fires anywhere on the ground, or being the spark for an uprising when the team is under pressure
When talking Hall of Fame entry, all of this is likely to gain respect, but be overlooked for it’s rivalled by many through the games history.
One factor that will be hard to ignore is the definitive stature that Burgoyne has in a time of real evolution in the game. With its greater emphasis on the skill and decision making of players, as well as a premium on versatility – Burgoyne is the master of the modern game.
It is as if he has taken the baton from the great Carlton player Anthony Koutifides as the prototype of the modern footballer with his ability to star in any role on the ground.
In his early career at Port Adelaide, his dexterity as a multifaceted midfielder brought comparisons to Chris Judd at his peak. This, to go with his reputation as one of the best markers of dangerous small forwards and his lauded line breaking defensive rebound.
In the recent Flag with second club Hawthorn, once more this mastery of versatility was front-row-centre for all to witness.
As he dominated the first half as a defensive quarterback, wafted with real cutting edge through the midfield, and iced his cake with two goals while drifting forward, including a 55 metre one off one step.
At 31, with conservatively 2-3 years left in the game, he is already worthy of consideration. With him likely to be hard to ignore after he retires, and the proper homage is given to his transcendent career.