1981 Revisited – Round 13: ‘Swingshift’



The gates are officially closed at Windy Hill by the time I arrive, twenty minutes before the bounce. Fortunately, my student membership card still allows me in. The lockout applies only to cash-payers.


Still, having entered on the outer wing, I face an almighty crush on the terraces. I can’t recall such a tight squeeze at any other game. By the time I’ve negotiated my way to my regular spot behind the goals, the match has started.


What unfolds over the next couple of hours is a microcosm of Essendon’s and Richmond’s fortunes in this topsy-turvey season. The Age report of the match describes Richmond’s second quarter burst as being a stunning return to their best 1980 football. Helped by some wayward kicking for goal from the home team, Richmond held their advantage in the third quarter, and started the final term positively. An early shot for goal by Michael Roach, just 25 metres out would put us 32 points up, surely a match-winning lead. He misses. Suddenly, our brilliant form evaporates. Inspired by some important positional moves, in particular S. Madden into the ruck and N. Daniher on the ball, the Bombers charge home. They almost muck it up with more inaccurate kicking — 5.8 to 1.2 — but take the lead for the first time just before time on, only to see Jess regain it for Richmond.


For the last two weeks, the Tigers have been saved by Kevin Bartlett, and the little champ has dobbed another four today. But this time, it’s another lethal small forward who decides our fate. Graeme Schultz won’t be widely remembered among the big names in this Essendon team, but on this day he was their hero, marking a loose ball and kicking the match-winner with two minutes remaining.


It’s hard for me to watch, but here’s that remarkable last quarter in full, complete with red shorts, mud, long, mid-winter shadows and nearly 31,000 spectators hanging from any handy vantage point.





The Bombers entered the top Five for the first time as a result of this victory and would not be budged from thereon.


And here’s one for numerology lovers. The Dons led by 26 points at the final change against Richmond in Round 3 only to squander the game by four points. This time the roles were exactly reversed.


The big upset of the round was Carlton’s defeat at the hands of Fitzroy. The Lions established a handy break during a sparkling 24-goal first half. It became a more dour affair after half-time but despite the efforts of the resurgent Wayne Johnston, the Blues were unable to bridge the gap. Chris Smith was best for the winners.



Carlton’s loss enabled Collingwood to regain top spot with its tenth straight win against St Kilda (a feat it also equalled last week against Footscray). The report of Moore gave the Pies temporary anxiety, but the charge was not sustained. Bill Picken starred for the winners.


At Geelong, the big pre-game headline was the arrival, by helicopter if you don’t mind, of East Fremantle champion, Brian Peake. The Cats had been courting Peake for seven years, as he accumulated several Premierships and a Sandover Medal at East Fremantle. Finally, today, they had their man and celebrated with a mammoth win — their biggest against the Roos, their biggest since World War II and the first instance of two consecutive 100-point wins. Ruckman Rod Blake kicked seven at full forward in his second game after injury. Neal and Bruns also starred for the Cats while Peake, the man of the moment, kicked two goals and was named among Geelong’s best, but this was to be a bright start to a short and underwhelming stint in the VFL. A lone four-goal hand from Steve McCann, normally a defender, was the only bright light on a dismal day for North.


Hawthorn retained their spot in the Five for another week, pulling away from a competitive South Melbourne. Terry Wallace was best afield while Silvio Foschini had an impressive five-goal game. The Swans continued their frustrating pattern of wilting late in games and were now well adrift of the finals’ contenders.






And in what turned out to be the decisive battle for the wooden spoon, Footscray won the day with a tidy victory over a depressed looking Melbourne.







Footscray 6.4 10.7 16.8 19.11 (125)
Melbourne 5.3 5.6 8.8 14.10 (94)


Goals –
Loveless 6, Knight 5, Edmond 2, Whitton 2, McAllister 2, N. Cordy, McConnell.
MELBOURNE: Crosswell 3, Jackson 3, Elshaug 3, Flower, Gordon, Byrne, Catoggio, O’Donnell.


Best –
B. Cordy, Knight, Kennedy, N. Cordy, Egan.
MELBOURNE: Elshaug, Giles, Pinnell.


Umpires: Chapman, Robinson.

Attendance at VFL Park: 15,599.

Receipts: $33,796.






Collingwood 4.6 10.8 14.11 19.14 (128)
St Kilda 1.4 2.5 4.6 10.11 (71)


Goals —
Brewer 4, Erwin, Stewart, Allan, Daicos, Weideman 2, Fellowes.
ST KILDA: Dunne, Hewitt, Sutherland 2, Breen, Meehan, Bennett, Gorizidis.


Best —
Picken, Smith, McCormack, Worthington, Byrnes, Allan.
ST KILDA: Roberts, Hewitt, Thomas, Kellett, Smedts, Cox.


Umpires: Dargavel, Sawers.

Attendance at Victoria Park: 23,669.

Receipts: $27,467.





Essendon 4.4 5.7 7.14 12.22 (94)
Richmond 2.4 9.8 12.10 13.12 (90)


Goals —
Schultz 3, Burdett 2, Neagle, N. Daniher, S. Madden, Watson, Thomson, J. Madden.
RICHMOND: Bartlett 4, Lee 2, Welsh 2, Jess 2, Weightman, Roach, Smith.


Best —
ESSENDON: N. Daniher, Watson, Buhagiar, Taubert, J. Madden, Hawker.
RICHMOND: Smith, Raines, Dunne, Bartlett, Lee, Weightman.


Umpires: Deller, Sutcliffe.

Attendance at Windy Hill: 30,718.

Receipts: $53,509.





Hawthorn 2.3 7.11 14.12 20.18 (138)
South Melbourne 3.4 6.9 12.13 15.16 (106)


Goals —
Matthews 3, Davies 3, Goss 2, Dipierdomenico 2, Goad 2, Murnane 2, Graeme 2, Tuck, Scott, Eade, Ablett.
SOUTH MELBOURNE: Foschini 5, J. Roberts, Teasdale 2, Wright 2, Smith, Evans, T. Morwood, Moir.


Best –
Wallace, Murnane, Moore, Matthews, Dipierdomenico, Goss.
SOUTH MELBOURNE: Round, Foschini, Carter, G. Smith, Wright, Ackerly.


Umpires: Morgan, Quinn.

Attendance at Princes Park: 11,657.

Receipts: $17,486.





Fitzroy 6.1 14.3 16.9 20.11 (131)
Carlton 7.2 10.7 14.10 15.16 (106)


Goals —
Quinlan 5, Rendell 4, Poynton 4, Conlan 2, Murnane 2, Carlson 2, Braddy.
CARLTON: Johnston 3, Bosustow 2, Ashman 2, Marcou 2, McKay 2, Fitzpatrick, Sheldon, Maylin, McConville.


Best —
Smith, Hansen, McCarthy, Carlson, Quinlan, Serafini, Harris.
CARLTON: Johnston, Wells, Sheldon, Fitzpatrick, Harmes.


Umpires: Marcy, Nash.

Attendance at Junction Oval: 18,455.

Receipts: $35,581.




Geelong 6.1 10.6 18.11 26.14 (170)
North Melbourne 3.3 3.3 4.6 8.7 (56)


Goals —
Blake 7, Bruns 4, Turner 3, Featherby 3, Bright 2, Peake 2, Clarke 2, Witcombe, Reynoldson, B. Nankervis, Neal.
NORTH MELBOURNE: McCann 4, Good, D.Schimmelbusch, Dempsey, Wilson.


Best —
Blake, Neal, Bruns, Featherby, Mossop, Peake.
NORTH MELBOURNE: McCann, D. Schimmelbusch, Wilson, Icke, Spencer.


Umpires: Bryant, James.

Attendance at Kardinia Park: 27,395.

Receipts: $45,320.






W L D F A % P
COLLINGWOOD 11 2 0 1600 1238 129.2 44
CARLTON 10 3 0 1460 1177 124.0 40
GEELONG 9 4 0 1347 1063 126.7 36
HAWTHORN 9 4 0 1486 1269 117.1 36
ESSENDON 8 5 0 1329 1140 116.6 32
Richmond 8 5 0 1460 1426 102.4 32
Fitzroy 7 6 0 1571 1471 106.8 28
North Melbourne 6 7 0 1503 1359 110.6 24
South Melbourne 4 9 0 1304 1597 82.6 16
St Kilda 3 10 0 1223 1512 80.9 12
Footscray 2 11 0 1161 1597 72.7 8
Melbourne 1 12 0 1135 1748 64.9 4



Read The Age, Monday 22nd Jun 1981, for coverage of all matches 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.


About Sam Steele

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


  1. Good stuff Stainless.

    Footscray’s second, and final, win for 1981,though double Melbourne’s tally. The return of RDB , with a few big name players, had not led them to the promised land.

    Some names i’d not heard for a while. Mickey Erwin’s son for the Pies. Jeff Burdett for the Dons: i’m pretty sure he came from Hopetoun, or somewhere in the far west of the state. Shane Braddy at Fitzroy, ended up in Sydney, team mates Michael Poynton and Lee Murnane are fellows i’d forgotten about. Darryl Schimmelbusch younger brother of club legend Wayne is another name i’d not heard in eons. Moir,South Melbourne?


  2. Stainless says

    Thanks Glen. Did you attend the Dogs-Dees game? From The Age report it sounds like it was a pretty dreadful game. Yet plenty of big name players running around especially for Melbourne. For all that 1981 is remembered as a great season by us old timers, it’s worth noting how lop-sided it was. Amazing that 15,000 turned up.

  3. Thanks for the Fitzroy-Carlton footage, Stainless.
    What amazed me was the number of “tiggy tiggy touch wood” free kicks that were given (93 frees in total for the match).
    While I believe today’s brand of footy is not a patch on that of 1981, you certainly have to earn your free kicks these days.

  4. Stainless says

    Thanks FitzroyPete – there’s no doubt that the number of frees and what they were paid for seem crazy by today’s standards. However I strongly believe that we’ve gone to the opposite extreme these days and the reluctance to pay free kicks is contributing to the ugly congested nature of the play. I particularly struggle with the amount of high contact that is let go because players are deemed to have ducked into tackles, whilst the game’s bosses keep carrying on about ‘protecting the head’. We could easily improve the speed and openness of the game if we reverted to 1981 interpretation of this rule.

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