When Bazza Buckskin ruled world footy
FORGET Barry Hall. Nunga man Barry Buckskin (jnr) is the real "Big Bad Bazza" of Australian football, and there's pixelated proof to back it up.
And long before Aboriginal AFL footballers were rendered as recognisable images on EA Sports' AFL series games with you-beaut cyber graphics for PlayStation and XBoX systems, Adelaide amateur footballer Buckskin was there first.
The former Glandore Football Club centre half-forward was all alone as a cartoon-rendered enforcer taking on the world and defending Australia's reputation as football's superpower.
Buckskin was Bad Bazza Buckskin, Australia's representative in the 2000 arcade game, Ozi Rules 2010 (pictured).
The game featured several countries including, of course, Australia with gameplay that featured a series of footy skills: kicking for goals on the run while avoiding tackles, set shots on goal and a kicking competition.
The rendering of Buckskin as the Bad Bazza character came about from Buckskin's friendship with the game's developer, Gary Ford, when Ford was involved at Glandore as a club official.
While developing the game, Ford approached Buckskin with permission to use his image as one of the central characters.
Ford was impressed with Buckskin's prodigious kick; the club recorded one punt travelling 69.5 metres. Ford wanted Australia's representative to be suitably empowered to defend our football reputation and Buckskin's booming kick fitted the bill.
Buckskin is the only non-fictional character in the game. "Any similarities to any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental except for Bazza Buckskin who is a real South Australian footballer with a prodigious kick," says the game's credits.
"Ah yes, Bad Bazza Buckskin, that's me," chuckled the real-life Barry Buckskin when AboriginalFootball tracked him down in Adelaide.
"Gary (Ford) told me he wanted a local feel for one of the fictional characters and he had this idea of a player with a really long kick. From there, Bad Bazza Buckskin was born."
The 33-year-old, now a successful franchisee of Gloria Jean's Coffees at Adelaide's Tea Tree Plaza, had largely forgotten about his pixelated alter ego in the years since the coin-slot game was first released.
Roughly 30 machines were made by Highway Games and were distributed across the country. Buckskin received one to test before it went to market, and later to keep. He had it installed in his garage for a time until Ford needed one to use for a games centre. That's the last time Buckskin saw a machine.
Buckskin didn't receive any royalties for the use of his image but that was his choice.
"Gary asked me if I wanted any (royalties) but I said no," he said.
"It was more about the profile of amateur footy and my club than anything else."
So how does it feel to be immortalised in a video game?
"Oh, look, I wouldn't go that far," Buckskin said.
"I guess it does stroke the ego a bit. Every now and then I get some good-natured flak over it. I once told my 10-year-old son about it but he didn't believe me.
"I think it was more important for Gary to have that (local) character in there. But I think he did me a few favours by making the character a bit more muscley than what I actually was."
Buckskin attracted interest from SANFL club West Adelaide as a 16-year-old. He would travel from his hometown Berri to play but the big time had no real appeal for the teenager. He played one game with tthe Bloods' reserves but that was it.
While he now makes a killer mochaccino with a lovely, fluffy froth, the man grinding your coffee beans was once Australia's coin-operated football saviour.
Monday 31 December 2007