1980 A Personal Footy Almanac – Round 5, Friday 25 April, v Fitzroy, MCG

I’ve barely been able to absorb the magnitude of the Collingwood victory when Round 5 is upon us. For Anzac Day falls on a Friday this year.

Anzac Day
Before 1995, when Essendon and Collingwood hatched a duopoly based on greed and self-interest, disguised under such epithets as “tradition” and “honouring the fallen”, the League had a democratic attitude towards Anzac Day.

Other teams were allowed to play!

In 1980, Carlton and Melbourne attracted 60,000 to VFL Park. Down at Geelong, 34,000, the biggest attendance at Kardinia Park since 1952, watched the Cats and Hawthorn, while Richmond and Fitzroy had the honour of competing at the “G” with a healthy 44,000 on hand.

Ironically, Essendon and Collingwood played at Windy Hill the following day with 32,000 shoe-horned in. Sounds like a good model to me!

A six-day break is a novelty in 1980, as is the experience of arriving an hour before game time and finding no curtain-raiser (Anzac Day law prohibits sporting events before 1pm). Despite the big crowd, it makes for an uncharacteristically subdued atmosphere in and around the yellow and black seats. The Anzac Day ceremonies intensify the sombre mood and it takes most of the first quarter before there’s a real sense that this is a fair dinkum match.

Fitzroy was a finalist in 1979, and with a line-up boasting players like Quinlan, Walls, Wilson, Beecroft, Conlan, Serafini and Alexander, they played some terrific football during this era. So notwithstanding their miserable history and just one win for the season to date, we’re not taking them lightly today.

The early going seems to prove the wisdom of this attitude. Both sides show plenty of panache and in a flowing contest, the Tigers lead narrowly at quarter time – six goals to four. From then on, however, Richmond dominates completely. A seven goal to nil quarter gives us a match-winning lead by half-time, but there’s more to come. Fitzroy shows some resistance in the third term but in spite of our inaccuracy, they make no progress on the scoreboard.

The final quarter, played out almost exclusively in front of us at the Punt Road end, is awesome – head-scratchingly, look-disbelievingly-at-one-another awesome.

Richmond, with 18 goals already on the board, rattles on another 11! In the last minutes it’s a question of whether we’ll kick our first ever double-century score. We fall one point short!

Barry Rowlings, just a year after being traded from Hawthorn as a has-been, has a day out, kicking six goals. Roach finishes with five, but my recollection is of a really even team performance and a hunger that’s evident in the way we finish of the hapless Lions. What is emerging from the last two weeks is a team with talent and strength on every line.

Big Mark Lee is becoming a top class ruckman and with Geoff Raines at his feet providing dash and long-kicking penetration, how could he not look good? In a “changing of the guard” display, today the 21 year old Lee has eclipsed 29 year-old Ron Alexander and 32 year old Len Thompson, in his 16th and last season.

Roach is easing into form and a goal-square hanger late in the game is this year’s first real return of the acrobatics he displayed in 1979. But it’s David Cloke at centre half-forward and the mosquito fleet that are really driving Richmond’s forward line.

In defence, our supposed weakness, Jimmy Jess is starring at centre half-back, whilst old hands Francis Bourke and Mervyn Keane are mentoring a younger group – Terry Smith, Greg Strachan, Bruce Tempany. And a bloke called Malthouse isn’t too shabby in the back pocket either!

Post-game, my mates and I wander through Fitzroy Gardens to pick up the 42 tram in the city (thereby getting on before the footy hordes waiting  to descend in East Melbourne). I reflect on the rapid and dramatic upturn in our fortunes. An average-looking April has ended on an unexpected high.

The Wrap
Richmond  6.1 13.8  18.19   29.25 (199)
Fitzroy        4.3   4.8   9.13     11.15 (81)

Goals
Rich: Rowlings 6, Roach 5, Monteath 4, Cloke, Bartlett 3, Sarah, Wiley 2, Raines, Smith, Weightman, Wood
Fitz: Irwin, Mugavin 3, Allan, Beecroft, Conlan, Gilmore, Thompson

Major Stats
For the second week running, the Tigers absolutely monstered their opponents on all indicators. Their total of 384 possessions, including 120 handballs, was massive by the standards of the day. As mentioned, Mark Lee dominated the ruck and, enjoying the top quality service from the young “General”, Geoff Raines with 37 possessions was best afield, closely followed by Rowlings whose half dozen goals came from 30 touches.

Inaccurate kicking by Monteath (4.5), Cloke(3.4) and Raines (1.3) cost the Tigers a chance to threaten the Lions’ then record VFL score of 238 points.

In another interesting illustration of the tactics of the day, two of our players, Greg Strachan and Greg Naylor, had just three kicks between them. I can only assume that they were our interchange players and that on a day when the starting 18 were in total control, Jewell simply used them as old fashioned 19th and 20th men, giving them a run near the end just for the sake of it. No talk of “rotations” back then!

Fitzroy had 130 less touches than the Tigers. The little champion, Garry Wilson with 30 possessions was by far Fitzroy’s best on the day. Graeme Allan, who would later move to Collingwood, was next in line on the stats sheet with just 18. Bob Beecroft’s goal came from his one kick for the day. Did he get injured or was the ball just never down there?

Attendance
44,401 at the MCG

In other games…
Carlton 14.19 (103) v Melbourne 9.20 (74) at VFL Park
Geelong 14.10 (94) v Hawthorn 13.11 (89) at Kardinia Park
Essendon 9.15 (69) v Collingwood 10.13 (73) at Windy Hill
South Melbourne 17.20 (122) v St Kilda 7.15 (57) at Lake Oval
Footscray 8.7 (55) v North Melbourne 26.21 (177) at the SCG

Mixed results in the other Anzac Day games. At Waverley, Melbourne’s good early season form was given a solid jolt by the undefeated Blues. The final margin flattered the Demons as Carlton eased off after comprehensively outclassing their opponents in the first three quarters.

Hawthorn was again involved in a thriller, but, unlike last week, couldn’t hang onto their narrow lead. Mario Bortolotto, a hitherto unknown player, became the Cats’ hero with a last gasp goal that ended Hawthorn’s charge. It was his only touch of the game!

In another close one at Windy Hill, the embattled Collingwood prevailed in a fluctuating game. It was to be a vital turning point for the Pies, whilst the second successive narrow defeat for Essendon was a foretaste of things to come in this frustrating year for them.

South Melbourne pricked St Kilda’s bubble with a ten goal thrashing at Albert Park, whilst in the first of four games staged in Sydney, North Melbourne responded emphatically to its Round 4 loss, obliterating Footscray by 20 goals. Gary Dempsey proved that old ruckmen could also dominate, with an imperious display against his old club.

The Ladder
Team                W    L    D    PF    PA    %      Points
Carlton             5     0     0   613   459  133.6     20
Richmond        3     1     1   664   496  133.9     14
Nth Melb          3     2     0   550   411   133.8     12
Geelong             3     2     0   508   448  113.4     12
Hawthorn        3     2     0    526   489 107.6    12
Melbourne          3     2      0    558    558  100.0     12
Sth Melb             3     2      0     505   521     96.9     12
Essendon            2     3      0    516     474 108.9       8
Collingwood       2     3      0    404    495    81.5      8
St Kilda               1     3       1     451    568    79.4     6
Fitzroy                1     4      0     506    685     73.9    4
Footscray           0     5      0     455     652     69.8    0

(Next week – Round 6)

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. Lovely recolllections again. I remember when we were allowed to play on Anzac day. Ten years after this event, 1990, saw Richmond and Fitzroy clash again….now that’s a traditional clash is it not?

    Must have been exciting watching the team coming together throughout the year, Fitzroy certainly were no bunnies at that stage. They’d kicked the then record score just the year before. 25 behinds!? We surely should have broken the record that day. I’m the foolish type who’d leave the ground disappointed!!

  2. Stainless it’s interesting noting we wrote about the teams we supported and their Anzac Day clashes. The following week they clashed with the Tigers taking the 4 points: Mario Bortolotto’s last game for Geelong.

    They met twice more for 1980. Geelong winning the return home and away bout, then Richmond inspired by 8 goals from ‘KB’, won the second semi on their way to the flag.

    Heady days for footy.

    Glen!

  3. Stainless says:

    Glen
    I missed the Waverley game but was at both the later games. I did reports on all of them in my 1980 series. Geelong had a great defence but limited attacking options in an era when the opposite was the norm. Their inability to kick big scores cost them dearly in 1980 and 1981, especially at Waverley.
    Great to reminisce!

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