1981 Revisited – Round 11: ‘On and on and on’



Dimmey’s clock-tower is one of Richmond’s most recognisable landmarks. Since 1910, this iconic structure has presided over the bustling Swan Street precinct, atop the graceful American Romanesque building that for decades housed Dimmey’s Model Stores. Over time, the building’s varying uses – from department store with accompanying manufacturing operations, to low-end discount outlet, and today, as upmarket apartments – mirrored the changing nature of the surrounding suburb.


In 1981, the famous clock-tower was painted yellow and black to acknowledge Kevin Bartlett becoming the first player in the history of the competition to reach 350 games. That such an extraordinary makeover was made for an individual honour underscores both the magnitude of Bartlett’s milestone at this point of the game’s history as well as the stature within the game of the man himself.


“At present, the wily, wiry veteran holds the VFL record for the most number of games. This weekend marks his 350th appearance. He is still kicking bags of goals and the 34-year-old has no real thoughts of retirement.”


So said the Footy Record on Bartlett’s achievement. Such was its magnitude that references to the significant milestones of David Clarke and Garry Wilson (200 games) and Rod Ashman (150 games) were buried in the back of this week’s edition. Although notably, umpire Bill Deller, the man we used to love to hate, scored a full-page article for reaching 250 games.


It’s easy to recall Bartlett’s amazing 1980 finals series and his then-record haul of 21 goals as part of a great team. But the more I look into the 1981 season and Richmond’s relatively mediocre performances, the more I’m reminded of Bartlett’s incredible ability to perform at an elite standard over and over again. True to form, KB was at it again in this, his milestone game, sparing his lethargic team from a potentially huge upset loss to bottom side Melbourne with three late opportunist goals in a four-minute burst. Sadly, none of them appear in these brief highlights, but I can certainly remember the trademark raised arms and impish grin that accompanied each.





Bartlett’s record was not the only one set during this Queen’s Birthday round. Just three weeks after the VFL Park ground record crowd was set, it was smashed by a monster attendance of nearly 93,000 at the Hawthorn-Collingwood game, which in turn contributed to a then-record aggregate attendance for one round of 231,000.


I was lucky enough to score a ticket with a school mate who had Hawthorn “connections” for this game. We sat in the Members Stand in spacious luxury compared with the crush in the public area. The crowd was not the only extraordinary feature of the day. With almost comical timing, Collingwood again failed on the big stage, systematically taken apart by the Hawks in what was clearly their best performance of the season. My mate’s connections got us into the Hawthorn rooms after the game where I was introduced to a disconsolate Don Scott. The ageing, out-of-form ruckman had been pointedly left on the bench all day by Allan Jeans, with Ian Paton starring. As his team-mates celebrated a fabulous win, Scott’s anger was palpable as he muttered through gritted teeth “it’s not often you don’t need a shower after the game”! Scott retired shortly after, part of the evolution of the Hawthorn side that would see them dominate the competition throughout the 1980s. Today’s game was an interesting foretaste of their emerging greatness.





The other upset of the round was at Moorabbin where St Kilda snapped a run of near misses with a comprehensive win over Fitzroy. This was a defeat the Lions could seemingly ill-afford, turning at the halfway mark two clear games out of the Five. Barker was again the star for the home side while the Lions’ much-vaunted attack floundered in the notorious Moorabbin mud.





Carlton took advantage of Collingwood’s slip-up, swapping top place for the third week running. North began promisingly but the Blues took over in the second quarter. Of note for Carlton was Wayne Johnston, playing his first game of the year, and best on ground to boot. Pretty handy addition for the second half of the season!








Another returning star giving a best afield performance was one J. Hawkins, returning for Geelong at the Western Oval after a long battle with injury. The Cats set up their win with five majors into the wind in the opening term. Peter Johnston returned the round high goal tally with six.


Finally, at the Lake Oval, the last big crowd to attend a South Melbourne home game saw a fluctuating contest which the Bombers eventually burst open in the third quarter. This was the first occasion that three Danihers appeared in the one game.  Daniher N. was the pick of the trio on this day.








Richmond 7.4 11.5 13.8 20.16 (136)
Melbourne 5.2 8.4 11.7 14.10 (94)

Goals —
Roach 5, Bartlett 5, Waterson 3, Wiley 2, Raines, Mount, Smith, Taylor, Rowlings.
MELBOURNE: O’Donnell 4, Gaunt 2, Jackson 2, Pinnell, Clayton, Eishaug, Smith, Bickford, Dickson.

Best —
Raines, Smith, Waterson, Tempany, Lee, Weightman, Bartlett, Roach.
MELBOURNE: Crosswell, Byrne, Smith, Pinnell, O’Donnell, Fowler, Giles.

Umpires: Cameron, Marcy.

Attendance at MCG: 31,025.

Receipts: $53,671.




St. Kilda 3.4 6.9 9.13 14.15 (99)
Fitzroy 2.5 3.9 5.11 7.17 (59)

Goals —
Scott 4, Roberts 3, Faletic 2, Barker, Dunne, Hewitt, Bennett, Gorozidis.
FITZROY: Quinlan, Lewis, Wilson 2, Hansen.

Best —
Barker, Burns, Elphinstone, Fidler, Roberts, Breen, Cunningham, Scott.
FITZROY: Wilson, McMahon, Alexander, Quinlan.

Umpires: Bryant, Dye.

Attendance at Moorabbin 21,672.

Receipts: $39,465.




Hawthorn 7.5 12.9 14.14 18.19 (127)
Collingwood 3.2 6.3 9.8 12.9 (81)

Goals —
Goad 5, Matthews 4, Goss 3, G. Ablett 2, Moncrleff, Paton, Wallace, Tuck.
COLLINGWOOD: Brewer 3, Stewart 2, Daicos 2, Barham, Wearmouth, Davis, A. Shaw, Weideman.

Best —
Matthews, Paton, Wallace, Kennedy, Russo, Tuck, Dipierdomenico, Eade.
COLLINGWOOD: A. Shaw, Brewer, McCormack.

Umpires: G. James, I. Robinson.

Attendance at VFL Park: 92,935.

Receipts: $214,736.




Essendon 3.6 4.8 10.14 15.18 (108)
South Melbourne 3.1 6.3 8.6 12.8 (80)

Goals –
S. Madden 5, Neagle 3, T. Daniher 2, N. Daniher, Foulds, Schultz, Buhagiar, Crow.
SOUTH MELBOURNE: J. Roberts 4, Evans 3, Moir 2, Foschini 2, Teasdale.

Best —
N. Daniher, Foulds, Neagle, S. Madden, Clarke, N. Daniher, Schultz.
SOUTH MELBOURNE: Evans. Round, P. Morwood, Wright, Teasdale.

Umpires: N. Nash, J. Chapman.

Attendance at Lake Oval: 28,588.

Receipts: $62,391.




Carlton 4.1 10.5 14.11 17.13 (115)
North Melbourne 4.7 5.9 7.13 11.18 (84)

Goals —
Johnston 4, Bosustow 3, McKay 3, McConville 2, Sharp, Marcou, Harmes, Francis.
NORTH MELBOURNE: Good 3, Hodgeman 2, Spencer, Kelly, Blight, McCann, Tanner, Dugdale.

Best —
Bosustow, Doull, Johnston, Ashman, Fitzpatrick, Harmes, Perovic, Hunter.
NORTH MELBOURNE: Kelly, McCann, Dench, Easton.

Umpires: Deller, Smith.

Attendance at Princes Park: 31,808.

Receipts: $54,694.




GEELONG 5.3 9.10 11.11 17.15 (117)
FOOTSCRAY 5.4 6.5 10.8 12.10 (82)

Goals —
Johnston 6, Matthews 2, Featherby 2, Floyd, Reynoldson, Neal, Bruns, B. Nankervis, Clarke, Witcombe.
FOOTSCRAY: Loveless 5, Edmond 2, Kennedy 2, Hawkins, Davidson, Hampshire.

Best —
J. Hawkins, Witcombe, Neal, Yeates, B. Nankervis, Featherby.
FOOTSCRAY: Edmond, Egan, D. Hawkins, Kennedy, Loveless, B. Reid.

Umpires: K. Dargavel, R. Sawers.

Attendance at Western Oval: 24,974.

Receipts: $49,991.







W L D F A % P
CARLTON 9 2 0 1215 946 128.4 36
COLLINGWOOD 9 2 0 1374 1074 127.9 36
HAWTHORN 8 3 0 1248 1024 121.9 32
GEELONG 7 4 0 1042 972 107.2 28
RICHMOND 7 4 0 1244 1221 101.9 28
North Melbourne 6 5 0 1357 1052 129.0 24
Essendon 6 5 0 1098 960 114.4 24
Fitzroy 5 6 0 1306 1275 102.4 20
South Melbourne 4 7 0 1087 1315 82.7 16
St Kilda 3 8 0 1117 1249 89.4 12
Footscray 1 10 0 943 1405 67.1 4
Melbourne 1 10 0 951 1489 63.9 4


Read The Age, Monday 8th June 1981, for coverage of all matches HERE.
Read The Age, Tuesday 9th June 1981, for coverage of all matches HERE.
To read Sam Steele’s coverage of Rounds 1-10 of 1981, click HERE.



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Sam Steele

50 years a Richmond supporter. Enjoying a bounteous time after 37 years of drought. Should've been a farmer!


  1. Peter Clark says

    More great reading, thanks Stainless.

    There were characters everywhere in footy at that time – Don Scott, KB, Doug Hawkins, Jacko, Crosswell, Bosustow etc. And look at the names listed among the best players in round 11 1981 – G. Wilson, B. Doull,
    D. Dench, N. Daniher, B. Round, Lethal, T. Barker, G. Raines. Some all time favourites in that list.

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