1980 A Personal Footy Almanac – Round 16, Sunday 20 July, v St Kilda, SCG

The final of the VFL’s four exhibition games at the SCG this year was St Kilda’s home game against Richmond. All four games were played on Sunday afternoons as the League, to this point stymied by the State Government from playing Sunday matches in Melbourne, chose to use Sydney as the base for pitching this new timeslot.

By now, I was a confirmed footy nut. Not content with absorbing the Escort Cup Grand Final on the Tuesday night (the Kerry Good “siren-gate” fiasco), looming mid-year exams couldn’t drag me away from my Saturday afternoon fix. That my team wasn’t playing didn’t deter me either. Collingwood had an interesting home game against Hawthorn whose finals hopes were hanging by a thread. I had mates who barracked for each side. So I went.

In perfect sunny conditions, Collingwood prevailed by 22 goals to 19 in a typical early 80s shootout. My Round 12 whipping boy, Michael Moncrieff, bagged eight goals in a lone hand for the losers, but Collingwood had too much class across the ground. There’s still six rounds to go but it looks like the end of the line for Hawthorn.

My sympathy for the Hawks is short-lived though as my real interest of the weekend is on the TV the next day. Cam comes round to my place and we settle in for the absolute novelty of live, televised footy for Premiership points, on Sunday, from Sydney. There are disapproving mutterings in the background from my parents about such sacrilege, but these are soon drowned out by frustrated gasps from Cam and me. In a dead-set repeat of last week’s opening minutes, Richmond concedes five quick goals to the Saints and another catastrophic loss to a bottom side is on the cards.

Knowing what I do now about the difficulties of playing at Moorabbin in mid-winter, all I can say in hindsight is that after a start like that, the Tigers were very lucky to be playing at a becalmed, dry SCG rather than a smelly, windswept bog like Moorabbin. In these early Sydney games, teams tended to go for broke down the short corridor and high-scoring matches resulted with little regard for defence. With a strong midfield and high-marking forwards, Richmond is perfectly suited to this approach and dominates the rest of the quarter.

Without the concern of high winds, Richmond takes over completely thereafter, with Geoff Raines, Wiley and Weightman dominant out of the centre. Relishing the short ground, Raines pumps his trademark raking 55 metre clearances straight to full forward where, more often than not, Michael Roach is there for the big grab or a spill to a crumbing rover. After several weeks of being well held in difficult wintry conditions down south, the SCG is like paradise for “Disco” and he’s well on his way to another double-figure haul of goals by half time. The Saints’ early verve has dried up completely and they fail to score in the second term.

The difference between watching on TV and “being there” is obvious in the second half. Had we been standing in the outer, Cam and I would be watching with rapt attention, loving every minute of this. On the couch at home, we watch the rout unfold but our conversation has already drifted to the impending exams and other mundane issues. It’s a pity really. After several near misses this season, Richmond finally breaks its club record score with a whopping 34 goals. The 152 point win is still short of our all-time greatest winning margin of 168 points, but even in this year of gargantuan wins, it’s an impressive reaction to last week’s loss.

The Sydney experiment hasn’t been a great success for the League. All the games were one-sided, with two being absolute blow-outs. The crowds were disappointing too. Only 14,000 today and even Carlton and Essendon earlier this year barely exceeded 24,000. I for one will be glad to see the rest of the season confined to Victoria.

The Wrap
St Kilda 7.1 7.1 10.3 11.4 (70)
Richmond 5.3 13.7 24.11 34.18 (222)

Goals
St K: Barker 4, Cunningham 3, Meehan, Scott 2
Rich: Roach 10, Bartlett 6, Monteath 5, Cloke 3, Dunne, Smith, Weightman 2, Bottams, Collins, Wiley, Wood

Major Stats
Absolute domination on every line by Richmond. By the standards of the day, 386 possessions to 266 was an avalanche. Robbie Wiley led the stats sheet with 37 possessions, whilst Cloke, with 32 possessions, 10 marks and three goals was dominant in spite of Richmond barely needing a centre half forward. Had KB kicked a bit straighter than 6.5, the all time League record score might have been threatened. As it was, the Tigers could experiment, sending defenders like Emmett Dunne, Terry Smith and Phil Bottams forward to help themselves to a few majors.

The gallant Trevor Barker was the Saints’ best, with 20 touches to go with his four goals, whilst the ageing Barry Breen managed 21. But it was No.51, Matt Vane, who topped the possession count for St Kilda in just his third of a six game League career.

Attendance
14,077 at SCG

In other games…
Melbourne 15.15 (105) v Geelong 17.12 (114) at MCG
Collingwood 22.17 (149) v Hawthorn 19.8 (122) at Victoria Park
North Melbourne 17.13 (115) v Fitzroy 13.8 (86) at VFL Park
Carlton 24.16 (160) v Footscray 15.13 (103) at Princes Park
Essendon 20.9 (129) v South Melbourne 19.19 (133) at Windy Hill

The increasingly lopsided nature of the competition was starting to show, with the top six sides all winning. Richmond’s massacre aside, only Carlton won with any great conviction. Catoggio and Edmond each bagged five goals, whilst “Bluey” Hampshire played a dominant lone hand in the ruck for the Dogs. Fitzroy was again fast out of the blocks, kicking 4.1 to nothing in the first 13 minutes, but unlike last week, they couldn’t hang on. Melbourne gave Geelong a huge fright at the “G”, hitting the front midway through the final quarter. Of all people, Ian Nankervis responded with the sealer for the Cats.

Meanwhile at Windy Hill, an even closer game resulted in yet more heartache for the home team as South pinched the game at the death, all but . Despite a five goal haul from the brilliant Tim Watson, six from John Roberts, 38 possessions from Ricky Quade was enough to land just the Swans’second win at Essendon in 40 years. In the supreme irony, the winning goal in a see-sawing finish came from ex-Bomber Neville Fields, literally on the final siren, and literally snuffing out the Bombers’ slim finals hopes.

The Ladder
Team            W     L     D     PF     PA     %     Points
Richmond    13    2      1   2099 1434  146.4    54
Geelong         12    4      0   1744  1379 126.5    48
Carlton          12    4      0   1825 1524  119.8    48
Nth Melb       11    5      0   1746 1380 126.5     44
Collingwood  9     6     1    1592 1548 102.8     38
Sth Melb           9     7      0     1621  1638    99.0      36
Hawthorn         8     8      0     1678  1724    97.3     32
Essendon          6    10     0      1613  1530  105.4     24
Melbourne        5    11     0      1653  1937     85.3     20
Fitzroy              3    12      1      1687 2050     82.3     14
St Kilda             3    12      1       1354 1969    68.8     14
Footscray          3    13     0       1531 2066     74.1     12

(Next Week – Round 17)

About Sam Steele

Stainless (aka Sam Steele) started following Richmond in 1970 when he was 6. This occurred when his mother, under instructions to buy him a Melbourne jumper, found they were out of stock and purchased a Richmond one instead. Despite the decades of heartache and turmoil this fateful decision has brought on Stainless, he is grateful to his mum as he has at least seen his side win a couple of Premierships. After 30 September 2017, his mum is now officially his favourite person.

Comments

  1. Cheryl Critchley says:

    That’s what happens when you sell home games interstate!!!

  2. Stainless says:

    Cheryl – since it seems to be the topic of the week, it’s interesting that the four “home” teams that played in Sydney in 1980 all suffered heavy losses. Not sure how much say they had in the decision to play those games at the SCG or whether they got any financial compensation.

  3. Stainless, another ripper. I didn’t realise they played these exhibition games in Sydney. Was it the first year they did this? I must find out more about the Swans relocation – they must have been pushed pretty hard to move there about this time.

  4. Phantom says:

    Collingwood are the bright lateral thinkers.

    They sell all their away games for home games.

    The only down side for the Pies is the teams they play in the finals have a home ground advantage when they play at the MCG because that’s the only place they get to play the Pies any time.

  5. Stainless says:

    Cookie – two matches for premiership points were played in Sydney in 1979 including a game between Hawthorn and North Melbourne, the previous year’s Grand Finallists.

    A further four were played in 1980 followed by two in Sydney and one in Brisbane in 1981.

    When South Melbourne played its home game against Collingwood in the middle of the 1981 season, the move to push them up there was well and truly on. Recognising that they were on display at their potential new home, South lifted for this game and beat the top of the ladder Magpies in one of the upsets of the season. Their next appearance at the SCG was as the Sydney Swans in Round 1 1982. The national competition was underway.

  6. Dennis Collins, who kicked one of the Tigers 32 goals is an interesting name. Was recruit of the year for Inside Football in 1972, speedy wingman who went from Braybrook to Footscray. Moved to Carlton later on, probably best recalled for being struck by Robert Muir in R22, 1978 @ Moorabin, then off to Richmond for while, unsure where he ended up following that.
    You mentioned South Melbourne winning @ Windy Hill for only the second time in 40 years, the other time prior i recll was in their wooden spon year of 1971, one of their three wins for the year. I think it was a 10 point margin, if my memory is roght; 13-18 to 13-8.

    Glen!

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