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Collingwood, Sydney AFL star, ABC presenter Tony Armstrong, coming out retirement for Barwon Heads

One of the most popular TV sports presenters in the nation is set to dust off the footy boots and return to the field for the first time in three years – and former AFL star Tony Armstrong is ‘so excited for it’.

Though he is now better known for his work on-camera as the ABC Breakfast sports guru, Armstrong played 35 matches across a six-year AFL career with Adelaide, Sydney and Collingwood.

He’s a blockbuster midseason recruit for the Barwon Heads Seagulls, who play in the strong Bellarine Football League (BFL), near Geelong, just south-west of Melbourne

Armstrong is no stranger to footy in the area, having spent time as a player-coach with Lara, who play in the nearby Geelong Football League.

Collingwood player Tony Armstrong pictured before a Magpies match in 2014

Collingwood player Tony Armstrong pictured before a Magpies match in 2014

The star presenter, who has been nominated for the Graham Kennedy Most Popular New Talent Award at this Sunday’s Logies, said he can’t wait to kick the Sherrin around again. 

‘I’m just looking forward to having a bit of a kick and having a bit of fun, I haven’t played footy in the best part of three years I don’t reckon. I’m genuinely like a little kid, I’m so excited for it,’ he told the Geelong Advertiser

The Seagulls, who feature Armstrong’s former Magpies teammate Nathan Brown, are on a tear at the moment, winning their past nine games in a row to sit third on the ladder.

Armstrong also played for the Swans from 2012 to 2013

Armstrong also played for the Swans from 2012 to 2013

Brown, who was crucial at fullback in Collingwood’s 2010 premiership win, has been brilliant for Barwon Heads this season, including a seven goal haul on Saturday, a game in which Armstrong was present for. 

‘Just the opportunity to get to play with him again and … starting a bit further back down the ground, that obviously sets me up perfectly to be able to hit up the big fella,’ Armstrong said of his former teammate.

‘Why wouldn’t you want to. He’s very dominant, I think he kicked seven on the weekend, he’s a gun. If I can chuck a couple down his throat, that’ll make my day.’

Armstrong played six matches for Collingwood as a defender before being delisted in 2015

Armstrong played six matches for Collingwood as a defender before being delisted in 2015

While the breakfast presenter is busy across a number of different TV projects, the unique nature of his schedule allows for some footy time. The dashing defender could be a crucial recruit for a club expected to be challenging for the BFL title.

Seagulls coach Dan Donati said Armstrong, who was at team training on Tuesday night, is ‘keen as mustard’ to play.

‘He was there on the weekend to watch Browny play. He’s had the itch for a fair while, and I’m pleased to say last (Sunday) night he indicated he wanted to play,’ he said to KRockFootball.

Donati said he won’t rush Armstrong into the starting side, but he is expected to play for the majority of the remaining games in the season. 

Tony Armstrong is now better known for his on-air exploits, particularly on ABC Breakfast

Tony Armstrong is now better known for his on-air exploits, particularly on ABC Breakfast

An Armstrong on-air moment again went viral earlier this week, when went berserk as Australia qualified for the World Cup before being mobbed by Socceroos fans. 

He also made headlines last week when discussing an alleged sledge by Melbourne Demons defender Steven May, who had a go at a teammate who had not played in the side’s 2021 grand final triumph. 

Tony Armstrong training for the Swans in AFL grand final week, 2012

Tony Armstrong training for the Swans in AFL grand final week, 2012

Armstrong was an emergency for the Sydney Swans when they won the grand final in 2021, and he said it was gut-wrenching to miss out on. 

‘Had that (sledge) been said to me … that would cut me, that would actually hurt,’ he said on the ABC.

‘Have a go at me for anything, have a go at me for my haircut, my dress sense, my choices; but that’s [the grand final win] something that you’ve tried your heart out for.

‘You’ve laid it all on the line and if you miss out, it’s cause you’ve come up short and you can’t have a go at someone for trying their best,’ said Armstrong.




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