Byron Pickett

Byron Pickett (born 11 August 1977) is a former professional Australian rules footballer who played with three clubs in the AFL. He was known as a big game player as well as for his strength, hard bumps and tough approach to the game. Pickett is one of 12 players with two premiership medallions, a Norm Smith Medal and over 200 AFL games. In 2005 Pickett was acknowledged as one of the finest Aboriginal players in the history of the game, with his selection to the Indigenous Team of the Century.[1] He announced his retirement from AFL at the end of the 2007 season.

Byron Pickett
Pickett playing for Melbourne in 2007
Personal information
Full name Byron Pickett
Nickname(s) Choppy
Date of birth (1977-08-11) 11 August 1977
Place of birth Kellerberrin, Western Australia
Original team(s) Port Adelaide (SANFL)
Height 178 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Weight 88 kg (194 lb)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1997–2002 North Melbourne 120 0(81)
2003–2005 Port Adelaide 055 0(80)
2006–2007 Melbourne 029 0(16)
Total 204 (177)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
1998–1999 South Australia 2 (?)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2007.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables,

After his retirement from the AFL in 2007 he continued playing semi-professionally, including some time with the Port Adelaide Magpies in the South Australian National Football League.

Early life

Born in Kellerberrin in country Western Australia to Indigenous Australian parents, Byron Pickett grew up in Tammin and then Geraldton, Western Australia before moving to Port Lincoln in South Australia. Pickett played the majority of his junior football for Port Lincoln Football League club Mallee Park, which was also the junior club of leading footballers like Peter and Shaun Burgoyne, Graham Johncock and Daniel Wells.[2] Pickett's skills were identified by South Australian National Football League (SANFL) club Port Adelaide and Pickett began to play in Port's junior sides, making the long trip each weekend to Adelaide.

Although Pickett never played higher than the under-19s with Port Adelaide, Port senior coach John Cahill was eager to name Pickett in Port Adelaide's squad for their inaugural Australian Football League (AFL) season in 1997. However, Pickett, citing homesickness, turned down this offer, although he later nominated for the 1996 AFL Draft, where he was taken by North Melbourne Football Club.

AFL career

North Melbourne (1997–2002)

Nicknamed "Choppy", Pickett burst onto the scene in 1997 with the North Melbourne Football Club, playing only one game. However, in 1998 he had a fine year and was rewarded with the Norwich Rising Star award.

At only 178 cm and 86 kg, Pickett was not a large Australian Rules player, however he is solidly built and unquestionably tough. Pickett developed a reputation as 'tough' player for his aggressive attack on the ball and the man with a frequent tendency to cause opponents serious and painful injuries. Pickett rarely did so outside the rules of the game and consequently was suspended only three times since 2001.

In 1999 he played in a premiership team with the Kangaroos, before switching to the club he originally played for in the SANFL, Port Adelaide Football Club, in 2002.

In the last days of his playing career with North Melbourne, he famously broke the collarbone of Geelong's Darren Milburn in a violent clash.

Port Adelaide (2003–2005)

He started his career at Port in 2003 where he kicked 43 goals in 25 games (2nd on the list of top goal kickers in 2003). He was part of Port Adelaide's first ever AFL premiership in 2004, and his 3-goal, 20 possession performance earnt him the Norm Smith Medal.[3] At the end of the 2005 season Pickett was traded to Melbourne, finishing a successful but short career for Port.[4]

Melbourne Demons (2006–2007)

At the end of 2005, Pickett was involved in a trade that saw him play at the Melbourne Football Club from 2006 onwards, and he has vowed not to alter his style of play. He wore No 33, previously worn by former aboriginal player Jeff Farmer.

In a round 7, 2006 clash with Fremantle at the MCG, Pickett sent Ryan Crowley to hospital with a broken cheekbone.[5]

Pickett suffered successive hamstring injuries in 2006 which sidelined him for several games.

2007 began slowly for Pickett, not selected in the initial rounds due to poor pre-season match fitness. However he returned in Round 4. In April he laid a heavy tackle on Tadhg Kennelly which tore Kenelly's anterior cruciate ligament.[6] On 5 May 2007, Pickett laid a strong tackle on Port Adelaide's Kane Cornes, which left him concussed and taken from the ground on a stretcher.

After round 6 in 2007, the Demons suspended Pickett to a minimum of four weeks at the Sandringham Football Club for the official reason of failing to attend a game. Unofficially, there were club concerns surrounding Pickett's weight and pre-season work ethic and him turning up to training under the influence of alcohol.[7]

Despite drawing criticism late in his career for being increasingly overweight and slow, however he maintained an impact in matches, continuing to score goals and make game turning plays.

Byron Pickett announced his last game of football on Sunday 2 September, in the match against Carlton, retiring along with Demons teammates Clint Bizzell and Nathan Brown. He kicked a goal in his final game against the Blues.


In 1999, Pickett crashed into Hawthorn's Brendan Krummel while his head was down to get the ball. In the bump, Pickett broke Krummel's nose, he was concussed and had short-term amnesia. A free kick was awarded but no official charge from the AFL. Despite his injuries, Krummel publicly defended Pickett's actions.

In 2000, Byron was admitted to a mental health clinic with fears of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and other mental illnesses. Pickett was released from the clinic with reports that his mental health was fine.

In 2005 he received a 6-week suspension for a clash which accidentally knocked out James Begley in a pre-season match with both players chasing for the ball. The incident sparked controversy and in response many football commentators, including premiership player Robert Walls called to ban the bump. Many cynics felt that Pickett had been singled out over the incident and his style of play unfairly made an example of, with the rules changing in response to the incident.

He received a 2-week suspension for a hip-and-shoulder on Carlton's Simon Wiggins as he completed a mark, after slowing down and pulling up to reduce the collision. In the 2005 semi-final between Adelaide and Port Adelaide, a bump on Adelaide Football Club's Rhett Biglands knocked the 104 kg ruckman out cold, seeing Biglands stretchered from the field.[8] He was not suspended for the collision.[9]

Pickett has also made numerous appearances in court related to drink-driving offences.[10]

In 2007 Pickett was suspended by Melbourne for failure to attend a game against the Western Bulldogs; he was listed as an emergency. It was later revealed he sent a phone text message to his coach Neale Daniher to inform him that he was too hungover to play.[11]

Post-AFL career

Following his AFL retirement, Pickett was rumoured to be approached by several Victorian country football clubs including Port Fairy in the southwestern Victorian based Hampden Football League. Eventually Pickett returned to Port Adelaide in the SANFL for 2008 and 2009.[12] Pickett is also involved with the club's Football Academy Program with a specific focus on mentoring some of the young Aboriginal players in this program.


 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
1997 North Melbourne 28100112000.
1998 North Melbourne 2825032119430564710.
1999 Kangaroos 2825022949538969480.
2000 Kangaroos 2825432639235576730.
2001 Kangaroos 282237102018828972961.
2002 Kangaroos 282240201755623173731.
2003 Port Adelaide 152543252258430992751.
2004 Port Adelaide 151520111094415345341.
2005 Port Adelaide 15151791284116949251.
2006 Melbourne 33209721580295102450.50.410.
2007 Melbourne 3397364198326300.
Career 204 177 93 1886 694 2580 668 570 0.9 0.5 9.2 3.4 12.6 3.3 2.8

Honours and achievements

Brownlow Medal votes
Season Votes
1998 3
1999 11
2000 1
2001 4
2002 5
2003 8
2006 5
Total 37


North Melbourne/Kangaroos

Port Adelaide



  2. Gill, Katrina. "The magic of Mallee Park". Australian Football League. Archived from the original on 22 August 2010. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  3. "Pickett claims Norm Smith Medal". Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2007.
  4. AFL trade movements
  5. "'Head Rule Strikes At Injuries'". 17 February 2012. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  6. Kennelly, Ablett hit by injury by Michael Gleeson for The Age. 29 April 2007
  7. "'Pickett wants back in'". Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  8. Crows claim Port carcass with third-term slaughter
  9. 'Pickett off the hook for Biglands bump'
  10. 'Pickett charged over car accident'
  11. Denham, Greg (16 May 2007). "'Pickett Too Hungover To Play'". Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  12. Port Adelaide Magpies Football Club Archived 7 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  13. Byron Pickett's player profile at AFL Tables
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