1980 A Personal Footy Almanac – Round 4, Saturday 19 April, v Collingwood, Victoria Park

Victoria Park

I remember as a little kid being driven down the hill through Studley Park towards Collingwood and seeing in the distance the packed stands of Victoria Park on match-day.  That vantage point, just near John Wren’s mansion, was as close as I ever got to the Magpies’ infamous old ground until this, my first visit there in 1980. 

“Don’t get yourself killed”, was my parents’ friendly advice when I told them where our Round 4 fixture was being played!

In contrast to the picturesque parklands surrounding the “G” and Princes Park, we leave trees and grass behind as the bus cruises from Kew Junction down that same Studley Park Road into the densely urbanised realms of Abbotsford, past the Yarra Falls textiles factory, and off at the railway overpass just before Hoddle Street: Magpie Territory.   It’s a relatively quick trip from my part of town, but the contrast with the leafy suburbs is stark.

Perversely, in the midst of this unrelentingly built-up part of Melbourne, the first thing that strikes me as I enter Victoria Park is a grassy area of standing room at the outer end of the ground, a struggling patch of vegetation surrounded by concrete and metal.  Sadly, this disappeared a few years later when the “New Magpies” regime decided to lengthen the ground, thinking that “big ground” experience would better prepare the team for Finals.  

It was at this end of the ground that the visiting supporters huddled: safety in numbers against the Magpie hordes everywhere else.  On this day, the crowd was a smidge under 30,000, but the ground in those days could still hold closer to 40,000.  Standing behind the goals at the Yarra Falls end, I marvel at how close to the players I am.  Within spitting distance – as, indeed, many of the crowd try to demonstrate!

It’s only Round 4 but already the pressure is on Collingwood and Richmond, with only a win each from their first three games.  The early going at Victoria Park illustrates their circumstances.  Despite good, still autumnal conditions, both sides are making plenty of mistakes and the vocal crowd is letting them know it. Richmond is playing its worst footy so far this year and manages just 4 goals to half-time.  Collingwood looks rusty and has a few injury worries, but thanks to the efforts of some of its experienced players – Davis up forward, McCormack at full-back and Ray Shaw on the ball, the home side looks a bit more comfortable in familiar surroundings and goes to the break 9 points up.  The opinion behind the outer end goals, expressed loudly, constantly and obscenely, is that the umpires aren’t doing the visitors any favours (for validation of this opinion – see Stats below).

During half-time, I learn later, a remarkable thing happened.  According to The Age, in a snippet included in the post-Grand Final analysis, the normally genial Richmond coach, Tony Jewell, marched into the rooms at Victoria Park, chucked his trademark checked coat into a corner and let fly.  In what was reportedly a spray of legendary proportions, he named names, he questioned attitudes and he didn’t let up until the warning siren sounded for the players to return to the arena.  Doubtless, he would have been starting to sense the notorious lack of patience of the Richmond hierarchy, but to pay out on his players so early in the season was a big risk.

What follows is an unbelievable transformation.  The Tigers suddenly click.  The second half score-line is 12 goals to three and Richmond turns the narrow half-time deficit into a 52 point win.  Our big guns, Roach and Cloke, both fire, kicking five goals each, but it’s the small guys that cut Collingwood to ribbons.  Raines, Wiley, Weightman, Rowlings and Bartlett dominate proceedings, and another journeyman, ex-Geelong rover, Paul Sarah, bobs up with two goals.  Much favourable media comparison is made between this “mosquito fleet” and that of Carlton– reigning Premier and, at this point, undefeated flag favourite for 1980.  The Age match report noted that the short-sighted would be driven mad trying to identify which of the Richmond running brigade was which.

It’s a carnival atmosphere down at theYarraFalls end.  As a Vic Park novice, I’ve not experienced the hardship usually associated with trips to this ground (that is to come in subsequent years), so I’m watching the celebrations with a naïve grin on my face that says “why all the fuss about this place?”  My mates decide that a win like this warrants a post-match kick-to-kick, a ritual now sadly lost in this era of over-zealous security and obsessive protection of pristine playing surfaces.  There’s a couple of false starts, with the crowd invading the ground near the end of the game, having mistaken a spectator’s horn for the siren.  Finally, the real thing puts an end to Collingwood’s misery.

It’s the first time I’ve been on the arena of a VFL ground.  It’s enemy territory and even this early in the season, the surface is heavy, but it’s nonetheless awe-inspiring to be galloping around on the same patch of grass that our heroes were on just moments earlier.  Around dusk, tired but happy, pants adorned with Abbotsford mud, I finally depart for the Johnston Street bus.

The Wrap

Collingwood      2.2          5.6          7.7          8.9 (57)

Richmond           3.2          4.3          9.9          16.13 (109)

Goals

Coll:Davis3, R.Shaw 2, Daicos,Johnston, Wearmouth

Rich:  Cloke, Roach 5, Sarah 2,Bartlett, Rowlings, Wiley, Weightman

Major Stats

Collingwood’s inept performance was reflected in the stats, which showed over 50 less possessions for the home side.  The trend of the game towards run-on play and handball told the story today, with Richmond leading the handball count 95-58.

Seven Richmond players topped 20 possessions, with rovers Weightman (28) and Rowlings (27) leading the way from Raines (25), Smith and Wiley (24 each).  Ruckman Mark Lee mauled his much decorated opponent, Peter Moore, accumulating 21 possessions, a game-high 9 marks and dominated the hitouts 34-16.

For the losers, full-back Peter McCormack held his own despite conceding five goals to Michael Roach, outpointing theRichmondspearhead in the aerial duel with 8 marks to 3.  Russell Ohlsen, Ray Shaw and Ronnie Wearmouth were the leading possession winners for the Pies.  To be fair, Barham and Magro were missing with injury and Edwards cracked a vertebra during the match.

For those who doubt what a parochial fortress Victoria Park was, and how easily umpires were influenced by their surroundings, the free kick count makes interesting reading.  On a day whenRichmondotherwise dominated every facet of the game, the free kick count was an incredible 60-31 in favour of the Magpies!

Attendance

29,888 at Victoria Park

In other games…

Fitzroy 12.10 (82) v Hawthorn 11.19 (85) atVFLPark

Melbourne18.21 (129) v Footscray 18.12 (120) at the MCG

St Kilda 11.17 (83) v Essendon 12.8 (80) at Moorabbin Oval

Carlton22.18 (150) v South Melbourne 13.15 (93) atPrincesPark

North Melbourne 10.9 (69) vGeelong16.10 (106) at Arden Street Oval

Thrillers at Waverley and Moorabbin overshadowed dominant performances by Carltonand Geelong against good quality opposition.  Hawthorn kicked their last goal 10 minutes into the third quarter but still hung on to win over the fast-finishing but luckless Fitzroy.  Meanwhile, St Kilda also held off a strong finish from the Bombers on the day when Phil Carman’s headbutt of boundary umpire Graeme Carbery cost him the rest of the season.  For the second week running, South Melbourne conceded 16 second half goals as the Blues went from strength to strength, whilst at Arden Street, Sam Newman’s game was described as “imperious” and included five goals, ten marks, 24 disposals and 12 hitouts.  Not bad for an old fossil! 

The Ladder

Team W L D PF PA % Points
Carlton 4 0 0 510 385

132.5

16
Hawthorn 3 1 0 437 395

110.6

12
Melbourne 3 1 0 484 455

106.4

12
Richmond 2 1 1 465 415

112.0

10
Geelong 2 2 0 414 359

115.3

8
Essendon 2 2 0 447 401

111.5

8
Nth Melb 2 2 0 373 356

104.8

8
Sth Melb 2 2 0 383 464

82.5

8
St Kilda 1 2 1 394 446

88.3

6
Fitzroy 1 3 0 425 486

77.5

4
Collingwood 1 3 0 331 427

87.4

4
Footscray 0 4 0 400 475

84.2

0

 (Next week – Round 5)

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. DBalassone says:

    Great work again – the Jewell outburst sounds like the turning point for the Tigers in ’80 – after that everything started to click. . Who could’ve guessed at the time that this was a preview of the Grand Final?

    And 91 free kicks awarded? That must be the all-time record. Surely.

  2. Sixty free kicks to Collingwood?!? Sheesh! Been looking forward to this, sounds like a sensational day at the footy. Nice to see a Cloke kick 5 against the Pies.
    Not sure it’d work these days, but loved Jewells antics and also that they appeared to work. Nice work

  3. Skip of Skipton says:

    I’m really enjoying this series. The stats website I use has Merv Keane playing his 150th, and captain Bruce Monteath his 100th that match. It also records Michael Roach kicking 5 goals from 2 disposals. Fair effort!

    A look at the team list indicates Collingwood must have had some injury issues around that time. A few blokes I have no recollection of played that day. Cheers

  4. Sixty frees to the Pies @ Vic Park. That was par for the course.

    Glen!

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Stainless, I was at this game and I remember that the plastic yellow hooters and the occasional bugle had started to come into vogue. Clokey and Roach killed us in the second half of that very grey day. The following year in the corresponding fixture (the Pies won by 55 points)I too had acquired a hooter. I blew it after every goal and mid way through the last quarter the crusty Richmond old fella in front of me had had enough.

    He said: “If you blow that fucken thing in me ear one more time you’ll be walkin’ home with it up your arse.”

  6. Dave Nadel says:

    I have a feeling I was at this game also but I have repressed the memory. What I do note is that Richmond’s two best forwards that day were both at Victoria Park three years later. One of those two became a loyal servant of the club and his son helped win us a premiership thirty years later. The less about the other, the better.

  7. Stainless says:

    Free kicks – the overall numbers were much higher back then than they are now, but 60 to one team seems extreme, particularly when they only had about 250 possessions for the entire game.

    Skip – I think I’m using the same stats record. I noticed that error too about Roach.

    Phil – in the 1981 game Daicos kicked 9 against us as a midfielder. Freak!!

    Dave – I would go so far as to say that Cloke senior was probably the most important member of the Richmond lineup back then (even more so than Trav is to Collingwood today). His loss through injury for much of 1981 was a huge factor in our demise that year, and it was no coincidence that the Tigers’ more permanent decline post-1982 occurred with his departure to Collingwood. I assume you mean Raines as the other “forward”?

  8. DBalassone says:

    The Collingwood/Richmond relationship was unique in the early 80s. Over that period, didn’t Collingwood effectively exchange Cloke, Raines and BT for Philip Walsh?

    Clokey was great the whole time before falling out of favour with Lethal. I remember Raines being very good in 84-85 before refusing to take that pay cut in ’86 and leaving along with Richardson for the Bombers. BT played his best footy under Matthews in ’86 – I remember a feature of his game that year was his leading.

  9. Jeff Dowsing says:

    The tit for tat recruiting war nearly sent both clubs to the wall. Others to swap included Craig Stewart, Peter McCormack, Wally Lovett, Michael Lockman & John Annear. I’m sure I’ve missed a couple more. And the Tigers also went hard for Daics.

  10. Stainless says:

    Philip Walsh burst onto the scene at Collingwood in 1983, by which time Cloke and Raines had already left Richmond. Richmond picked up Walsh in 1984 and I’m struggling to recall what the trade was. BT didn’t go to Collingwood until 1985.

    Whatever the case, Walsh was a dud at Richmond. He was one of a number of ordinary players that the Tigers acquired from Collingwood (John Annear, Craig Stewart, Wally Lovett, Neil Peart…) as part of a savage trading war that brought both clubs close to bankruptcy. Collingwood certainly did better out of it than the Tigers (BT kicked the ton in 1986 and Cloke was good for them) but Taylor was not selected in their 1990 Premiership side and Cloke was back at Richmond by then.

    So all in all, a pretty big waste of time, money and effort all round!

  11. Andrew Fithall says:

    Stainless – at my son’s parent-teacher interviews last night, I took the opportunity to alert his PE teacher Stephen Mount to the existence of your very fine personal almanac.

    Despite the bad memories, I am really enjoying your work.

    AF

  12. Stainless says:

    Thank you Andrew – I must make sure he gets a good wrap! Later in the season, I suspect.

    Our family optometrist is another Richmond defender from that year – Greg Strachan.

  13. If that’s the bloke I am thinking of Dave the definition of loyalty needs some tweeking.

  14. Them bloody white maggits cost us again. If it hadda been 260 free kicks what we shooda got we wooda wun.

    (Signed) Digga.

  15. Skip of Skipton says:

    Noel Lovell, who was selected ahead of our cousin Ron (emergency) for the ’81 grand final; and did bugger all, was another. Bad call T-shirt Tommy.

  16. Dave Nadel says:

    Stainless, the poaching war between Collingwood and Richmond was, as you and Jeff said, disastrous and could have destroyed both clubs. It stemmed from a refusal by Graeme Richmond et al to recognise that the 70s were over and the Tigers needed to change their administrative and recruitment practises and the inability of Ranald Macdonald and the New Magpies to recognise that knowledge, experience and judgement are as important in running a football club as money. The biggest beneficiary of the Victoria Street Wars was player manager Peter Jess,

    I can’t describe the war as a total waste of time, money and effort because Collingwood got David Cloke and he is a gift that has kept on giving over two generations (so far)

    The other forward (although he spent most of his career as a centreman) was Raines who is a definite candidate for the title “Greediest Man in Football” I find it very hard to comment on the former Gold Coast Developer without risking the law of libel so I will not comment further.

  17. DBalassone says:

    You could argue there were 2 significant results to all this trading:

    1) BT’s two late goals in the ’90 Qualifying Final got the Pies out of a hole.
    2) Richmond’s languished near the bottom for the rest of the decade and into the early 90s. It wasn’t just losing Cloke and Raines, but also letting go off Wood and ultimately choosing Roach ahead of Taylor (which wasn’t an easy decision at the time, but I can’t remember Roach doing much after 79-81).

  18. Stainless says:

    Dave
    I say it through gritted teeth but you’re right about the Cloke legacy. Why the Cloke boys didn’t decide to go to a nice stable well-resourced club like Richmond I’ll never know!

  19. James Grapsas says:

    Stainless – excellent article again. I’m enjoying this series a lot.

    Graeme Landy was a family friend when I was growing up, so I’m interested to read about his performances in 1980. It was unfortunate that he missed the Grand Final after striking Ken Sheldon in the 2nd Semi-Final. Although his best years were at Punt Road, it was good to see him back at Geelong in 1987-88.

  20. Stainless says:

    Hi James – thanks for the feedback.

    Graeme Landy will certainly get a reference later in the season and not just for the Sheldon incident. I’m checking statistical references as I go but my recollection is that he struggled to break into the settled Richmond defence for much of 1980 but managed some good performances when the opportunities presented late in the season. I certainly remember him being a solid contributor for Richmond until the mid-80s.

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