He is the father of Buce. A legendary figure whose timeless contributions to Buce cemented him at the very top of the games elite. Now he sits idely in his garden, beer in one hand and Bob Dylan humming from an old, fuzzy speaker. The scars from his numerous Buce scraps blend with the wrinkles of old age into a jagged face that seems to scowl even as he rests. His knees are stiff and painful and his lungs are wheezy. Keith Rogers, who enjoyed a long and successful career in Buce, has little to say these days, little less to say about Buce. Quizzed on the game that forged him as the first ‘immortal’ of Buce he remains quiet. Turning his head to me he mutters; ‘Buce ruined my life’.
Keith was born in 1959 to a farming family in the small town of Gloucester. He heard about Buce when reading the papers he used to deliver as a day job. Obsessed with this phenomenon he would practise daily by kicking dried rabbit dung into the family well. On a day when the sun shone brighter than he had seen before he enrolled in a new Buce academy that opened in Sydney that year.
Graduating at the top of his class he began his impressive career signing to the ‘Redfern Rummies’ in 1980 before representing Australia later in 82’. It was the early days with the ‘Redfern Rummies’ that influenced Rogers’ typically aggressive and belligerent style of play. He stayed with the Rummies for most of his career until they became bankrupt in 1999 and he decided to retire. Starting his own Buce academy, The Toecutters Academy, he taught until deciding to reinvest himself into the sport when its revival came in late 2008. A decorated and fierce competitor Keith continued until 2011 when he retired completely and left the Toecutters under the tutelage of longtime conspirator Drew Cowan. It’s the revival years that turned Keith against the game that created him.
Keith never really settled into the new form of Buce. His tough, physical play style ruffled many of the new superstars of Buce as they emerged in the sport’s second coming. He was competent in his return to the sport but each game became more mental than physical. His on field feuds dominated BNN exposure and shunted his achievements on the field. With little respect being shown towards the legend he began to feel helpless and alone. His wife Marian describes how he came very close to even apologising to one of his victims, a move which she felt would have killed him.
An on field collision with Guy Bevan in 2010 reminded him of his deteriorating physicality and he was forced by doctors to wear knee braces afterwards. A long standing feud with Hawks captain Michael Read also reminded him of the hostility which faced his old-school approach. Furthermore his results on the pitch were declining, with many losses befalling the Toecutters. A falling out with teammate Drew Cowen further exacerbated his resolve. Keith, the spotlight of Australian Buce for many years, was not accustomed to having heavy criticism sprayed at his playing style which led Australia to a Buce World Cup in 1988. Without support or on-field success Keith turned to drinking and prescription painkillers.
At the dawn of his second retirement Keith was exhausted physically, emotionally and spiritually. His final appearance being the 2011 Buce League Grand Final. Retribution never came however as his team, or as he declares ‘I’, lost 7-2. Thus Keith was sent from the echelons of Buce, his reputation shattered by the new Buce machine.
As you talked to Keith today he feels he is remembering a nightmare when he recalls his Buce career. There was little pay in the sport, he is broke. There was no medical help, he is broken. His comeback left him shattered. So Keith sits in his back garden damning the game. The father of Buce having to work as a landscaper whilst his modern peers, who reject him completely, gain the financial benefits of his foundation work. Keith feels betrayed by the sport he loved as a child. After more than three decades in the sport Keith has nothing to show for it except the physical drawbacks. Buce ruined his life.