Today we look back on the career of Jim Buckley. Pound for pound he was one of the toughest players to pull on a Carlton jumper. Buckley would play 164 games and boot 146 goals over a 15 season career that was sadly disrupted with numerous injuries.
The joint youngest player to debut for the Blues at 16 years 200 days (shared with Ted Pollock 1930), Buckley despite his jockey type size and weight soon demonstrated an insatiable want to compete and a renowned love of the punt on horse races. In fact he would often be known to focus on the scoreboard for the race results. One story goes umpire Glen James had also a vested interest on one particular race and kept checking in with Buckley during one particular game.
After 2 games in his debut season of 1976, Buckley continued his development as he competed for a regular spot in the senior lineup.
In 1977 in just his 12th game, he booted 6 goals v Essendon.
In 1978, the appointment of Alex Jesaulenko really resonated with Buckley as he thrived under the tough training regime. He would play 16 games in 1978, all this at still the tender age of 18. In 1979 he really had to battle for a spot as the introduction of the likes of Alex Marcou, Wayne Johnston to the already star studded lineup made spots hard to earn. Buckley however would get his chance and would prove an invaluable contributor in 1979 Premiership with 2 goals. Buckley was now an integral part of the side with his see ball get ball mentality and long penetrating kicks. His ability to launch a torpedo from 60 metres goal post high and that he never shirked an issue made him a very popular teammate and fan favourite. Often this would lead to Buckley running into tribunal issues.
After 20 games in 1980, Buckley would then be hampered by ankle issues in 1981, a recurring problem throughout his career. Despite playing just the 13 games, he again was a significant contributor on Grand Final, with his long goal when the Magpies led by 21 points late in the 3rd term significant in getting the Blues back into the game.
Then to the shock of the club, Buckley asked for a clearance to Essendon. A request that was denied. To Buckley’s credit he responded in the best possible way by producing a season of the highest quality to win the B&F in a Premiership season in 1982. Buckley actually played the entire finals series with a broken hand and actually missed the Preliminary Final as a result. He got the first kick in the 1982 Grand Final which led to the first of three goals the Blues scored in manic fashion.
In 1983, despite being restricted to just 11 games, Buckley would still finish 8th in the B&F and was the Blues best player in the Elimination Final loss to Essendon. It was a year he again asked for a clearance to Essendon and that thought was he may have been used in a trade for Justin Madden. Whilst Madden did cross to Carlton, Buckley remained a Blue.
1984 would prove Buckley’s last injury free one, managing 23 games and finishing 4th in the B&F. In fact Buckley would manage just 36 more senior games in the next six seasons. His chronic ankle injury flared up which saw his ability to stay out on the park severely impacted.
He managed just 10 games in 1985, including the Elimination Final, his last final appearance. It was during this time he was pursued by Dr Edelstein to sign up for the Swans. Buckley seemed keen but the Blues wouldn’t relent.
In 1986 he played just 6 games then in 1987, he couldn’t break into the senior lineup and played just 2 senior games. Despite this he was actually named an Emergency for the Grand Final which had he played would’ve made him a 4 time Premiership player. Instead he would captain the Reserves to a Premiership win and win the Reserves B&F. He did however play in the infamous Battle of Britain post season stoush at the Oval and was prominent when the game imploded. Buckley in fact with his role at CUB had been entrusted to ensure the CUB trademark was painted on the ground. Buckley though used the wrong type of paint applicant which ensured the CUB logo was displayed at the Oval for an extremely lot longer time than first planned. I am sure Big Jack would have loved that.
In 1988, Buckley reinvented himself as a tough back pocket player and relished the role but a late season knee injury saw him miss the last 4 H&A games. Despite being fit for the finals, Buckley was overlooked for selection. Buckley would endure further ankle issues in 1989 and failed to play a senior game.
However he would play on and in 1990 he was starting to play some consistent football as a small forward, managing six games before his career came to a sudden halt in Round 15 1990 when he injured a knee and decided to retire immediately.
Buckley would remain a staunch Carlton personality post his retirement and in 2013 had the thrill of watching his son Dylan debut for the Blues. Dylan would go onto play 39 games for the Blues before being delisted at the end of 2017, something that Jim was rather upset about.
Dylan would find a new home at the GWS Giants, where he managed to add two further games. Now Dylan is a popular pod caster with his Dyl and Friends as well as media work for the Blues.