Almanac Footy: Bachar Houli, an ornament to the game


Bachar Houli – Grand Final Star
Artwork: Kate Birrell


Richmond’s three-time premiership star Bachar Houli has announced his retirement after 232 AFL games, 26 for Essendon and 206 for the Tigers. A resilient, skilful, rebounding half-back with more than a splash of dash, Houli was twice runner-up for the Norm Smith Medal. Many thought he should have received it for his starring performance in the 2019 Grand Final or for his effort playing through injury in the 2020 decider.


But just as important as his on-field efforts, Houli will be remembered for his personal qualities – humility, grace and humanitarianism. A proud Muslim, Houli earned and maintained the respect of his fellow players and the wider footy community for his dedication and commitment to all that is good about the game.


The Footy Almanac salutes a great player, a gentleman and an ornament to the game.


Well played, Bachar Houli!


The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE


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  1. Malcolm McKinnon says

    Also, has there even been a better beard in football than Bachars?! (That’s a rhetorical question of course.)

  2. Speaking from our little part of Melbourne, with a sizeable Muslim population across Preston and adjoining suburbs, Houli was revered. Not just loved and respected. Not just whispered about and cheered, not just lionised and celebrated but revered. And he was (is) an absolute bloody champion. Raising a glass!

  3. Rick, in deference to Bachar, I assume that the toast is non-alcoholic. But in all seriousness, you’re on the spot – he’s ‘an absolute bloody champion’!

  4. Colin Ritchie says

    Well played Bachar! Loved him at Essendon but he never really got a fair go there!

  5. So sad that the numerous retirements of some great figures in the game have had to take place in front of empty stands. The Richmond-Hawthorn “dead rubber” would have attracted a bumper crowd if only for the opportunity of farewelling Clarko, Burgoyne, Houli and Astbury.
    I absolutely concur with every tribute lavished on Bachar Houli – for his football, as a wonderful ambassador for the Muslim community and simply for being a great person. I cannot go past Greg Baum’s piece in yesterday’s Age to sum all this up.
    But let me also single out David Astbury as an equally fine player and human being whose understated contribution to the Richmond team and organisation is probably not recognised by many without an affiliation with the Tigers. In truth, I’d never even heard him speak until I listened to his retirement announcement last week. But for anyone who thinks these are just stage-managed events, complete with mandatory tears, do yourselves a favour and listen to this one. Humble, gracious, articulate and 100% genuine. And a beautiful summary of why we love this game.
    As much as there is an upbeat sentiment about Richmond’s prospects in 2022 and beyond, based on thorough analysis of their list, the pundits would do well to remember that footy clubs don’t succeed through skill and talent alone. It’s not easy to simply replace great people like Houli and Astbury.

  6. Great write up and well said Stainless
    Would have loved to farewell Houli and Astbury, hopefully they do a lap of honour at Richmond first home game in front of crowds

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