At his peak in the late 19th century, John “Bunny” Daly was regarded as Australia’s greatest rover. Teammates and opponents alike would remember him as the best footballer they ever saw, so it is no surprise that his reputation has endured down the generations.
The first Norwood player honoured in the AFL Hall of Fame, Bunny embodied all that was best in the footballers of his era: he was fast, elusive, skilled, competitive and full of courage. It’s claimed that he once carried the ball the length of the ground without being tackled.
On his debut against Port Adelaide aged 18, Bunny put in the first of several performances that stamped him as the outstanding junior in the competition. One year later he was the outstanding player in the competition, of any age. In his first three seasons Bunny played in three Norwood premierships, and would add two more before the new district system in 1899 forced him and his brother Anthony “Bos” Daly to transfer to West Adelaide.
While Bunny captained Norwood and played for South Australia, his sheer brilliance in 1888, the year Norwood became Champions of Australia, is part of football folklore.