1981 Revisited – Round 14: ‘Gotta pull myself together’

Poor Malcolm Blight. This infamous non-goal will forever punctuate what is otherwise a magnificent highlights reel.


Despite Blight’s insistence that it was merely a momentary lapse in concentration, it came at a time when the pressure was reaching unbearable proportions for the last of the VFL’s playing coaches. Another heavy loss against an undermanned Richmond saw North Melbourne tumble three clear games out of the top Five. Blight’s brain-fade was seized on as evidence that football was moving to a new level of professionalism, and that the growing time and tactical demands of the game had outstripped the amateur-era role of captain-coach. His critics conveniently overlooked the fact that Blight was one of North’s best on the day, contributing four goals in a side that was well-beaten. As we will see, a couple of weeks later, Blight conceded to the unrelenting scrutiny.


It was a better day at the office for another under-pressure coach, Tony Jewell. Despite missing Michael Roach through injury and overlooking Brian Taylor as his obvious replacement, Richmond still scored 21 goals, with stand-in full-forward, Jim Jess booting five.


Mid-season trades were also on show this week. Alan Martello lined up for Richmond having been cleared in return for Kim Kershaw to Hawthorn. Glen Middlemlss was named in St Kilda’s lineup, having been a Geelong player earlier in the year.


Three big names all played their 250th games this weekend – Barry Round, Bernie Quinlan and Greg Wells. Remarkably, all three were cast-offs from their original clubs, Round and Quinlan from Footscray and Wells from Melbourne. Round and Quinlan shared their milestone game, squaring off at the Lake Oval. Despite Round being best afield, Fitzroy continued their revival, being too direct and accurate for South. Three months later, Round and Quinlan would again be sharing the limelight – as joint Brownlow Medal winners! What were the Dogs thinking? A further noteworthy landmark from this otherwise forgettable game was the first appearance of the three Morwood brothers for South, with Shane making his debut alongside Tony and Paul.



The big game of the round was at Waverley where the Cats and Magpies played a tight encounter that was to prove a near replica of their Preliminary Final later this year. Both sides played pressure football until 10 minutes into the final term when Geelong buckled slightly. In a five-minute burst, they were staring down the barrel of a three-goal deficit.


The remaining two games in Melbourne saw St Kilda turning a two-point half time lead into a 72 point win over the hapless Melbourne, and Carlton crushed Footscray by 84 points after an even first term.


In a week when drab games on heavy, waterlogged grounds highlighted the limitations of the traditional Melbourne-centric competition, a glimpse of the future was seen on Sunday with the second of the League’s interstate forays taking place in Brisbane. Fortuitously, Hawthorn and Essendon met at a packed sun-drenched ‘Gabba in a crucial encounter between the two big improvers this season. The cramped, pear-shaped arena notwithstanding, Melburnians watching the live telecast couldn’t help but notice the high skills on display in the dry conditions, and the entertaining, high-scoring match that unfolded.


As usual, the Footy Record was quick to emphasise every positive aspect of the game. In the build-up, VFL President, Dr Allen Aylett said he was certain the match would be a success. “I believe it will be a great day for Australian Football in Queensland,” he said. “Over the past three years, several clubs have wanted to play matches for premiership points in Brisbane. It is pleasing that in co-operation with the Queensland League, we have been able to stage this important game,” he said.


In the aftermath, Aylett praised the “vocal and knowledgeable” crowd, noting that it “gave the Essendon-Hawthorn game a ”Melbourne feeling”. He said that Australian Football was growing in popularity in Queensland, and that the game attracted a sell-out crowd despite the fact that there were top soccer and rugby league games plus an international rugby union match played in Brisbane on the same day.


As to the game itself, the Bombers made it eight straight in another close encounter, with Hawthorn getting to within two points in the last quarter. The two Maddens’ marking proved too much for Hawthorn, with Simon booting seven goals. Highlights from the first and last quarters give a flavour of the day.








Richmond 4.5 11.14 16.19 21.23 (149)

North Melb. 4.3 7.6 12.11 15.16 (106)


Goals —

RICHMOND: Jess 5, Wiley 4, Bartlett 3, Wall 2, Lee, Weightman, Raines, Waterson, Martello, Rowlings, Welsh.

NORTH MELB.: Blight 4, Glendinning 2, D. Schimmelbusch 2, Goulding 2, Spencer, McCann, Dempsey, G. Dugdale, Jarrott.


Best —

RICHMOND: Rowlings, Wiley, Raines, Waterson, Jess, Welsh, Wall.

NORTH MELB.: W. Schimmelbusch, McCann, Blight, Dench, Glendinning, Goulding.


Umpires: Chapman, Quinn.


Attendance at MCG: 31,212. Receipts: $51,663.



Fitzroy 4.4 9.5 13.6 14.9 (93)

South Melb 2.6 4.10 6.13 9.16 (70)


Goals —

FITZROY: Parish 5, Quinlan 3, Rendell 2, Murnane, McMahon, Alexander, Carlson.

SOUTH MELBOURNE: James 3, Foschini 3, T. Morwood, Wright, Allender.


Best —

FITZROY: Parish, Lawrie, McMahon, Murnane, Alexander, McCarthy.

SOUTH MELBOURNE: Round, Browning, Evans, Whitzell, Smith, Rhys-Jones.


Umpires: James, Robinson.


Attendance at Lake Oval: 11,756. Receipts: $15,872.



Carlton 1.7 7.11 11.18 15.25 (115)

Footscray 2.1 4.1 5.3 5.4 (34)


Goals —

CARLTON: Bosustow 5, McConville 4, Marcou 2, Fitzpatrick, Sheldon, Ashman, Buckley.

FOOTSCRAY: Loveless 3, Hawkins, N. Cordy.


Best —

CARLTON: Fitzpatrick, Maclure, Doull, English, Perovic, Wells, Bosustow.

FOOTSCRAY: Egan, Burton, Loveless, Reid, Whitten, Hawkins.


Umpires: Morgan, Sawers.


Attendance at Princes Park: 17,419. Receipts: $19,490.



Collingwood 3.2 7.3 8.5 13.8 (86)

Geelong 3.6 6.8 8.10 9.14(68)


Goals —

COLLINGWOOD: Davis 3, Kink 2, Irwin, Brewer, A. Shaw, Taylor, Weideman, Allan, Daicos, Smith.

GEELONG: Matthews 3, Turner 2, Blake 2, Bruns, Peake.


Best —

COLLINGWOOD: Twomey, A. Shaw, Smith, Byrne, Allan, Moore, Irwin.

GEELONG: Jeffreys, Mossop, Hawkins, Malarkey, Blake, Turner.


Umpires: Smith, Nash.


Attendance at VFL Park: 50,441 Receipts: $117,729.



St Kilda 4.6 6.10 11.11 18.19 (127)

Melbourne 3.1 7.2 8.6 8.7 (55)



ST KILDA: Middlemiss 3, Gorozidis 3, Dunne 2, Duperouzel 2, Barker, Breen, Faletic, Roberts, Hewitt, Sutherland, Sarau, Mildenhall.

MELBOURNE: Crosswell 2, Flower, Keenan, Catoggio, O’Donnell, Jackson, Healy.


Best —

ST. KILDA: Barker, Dunne, Hewitt, Mildenhall, Thomas, Faletic.

MELBOURNE: Crosswell, Keenan, Fowler, Hardeman, Elshaug, O’Donnell.


Umpires: Marcy, Sutcliffe.


Attendance at Moorabbin: 14,058. Receipts: $21,346.



Essendon 5.2 14.8 18.12 22.19 (151)

Hawthorn 4.4 10.7 17.10 20.13 (133)


Goals —

ESSENDON: S. Madden 7, Schultz 5, Watson 2, Fowler 2, Burdett 2, T. Daniher, Carey, Crow, J. Madden.

HAWTHORN: Murnane 5, Davies 4, Matthews 3, Tuck 2, Goss, Ablett, Eade, Greene, Robertson, Turner.


Best –

ESSENDON: S. Madden, J. Madden, Schultz, N. Daniher, Buhagiar, Neagle.

HAWTHORN: Robertson, Tuck, Wallace, Mew, Murnane, Matthews.


Umpires: Cameron, Dye.


Attendance at BCG: 20,351. Receipts: $86,882.






W L D F A % P
COLLINGWOOD 12 2 0 1686 1306 129.1 48
CARLTON 11 3 0 1575 1211 130.1 44
GEELONG 9 5 0 1415 1149 123.2 36
ESSENDON 9 5 0 1480 1273 116.3 36
HAWTHORN 9 5 0 1619 1420 114.0 36
Richmond 9 5 0 1609 1532 105.0 36
Fitzroy 8 6 0 1664 1541 108.0 32
North Melbourne 6 8 0 1609 1508 106.7 24
St Kilda 4 10 0 1350 1567 86.2 16
South Melbourne 4 10 0 1374 1672 82.2 16
Footscray 2 12 0 1195 1712 69.8 8
Melbourne 1 13 0 1190 1875 63.5 4


Read The Age, Monday 29th Jun 1981, for coverage of all matches HERE.


To read further stories from ‘1981 Revisited….’ click HERE


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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. Colin Ritchie says

    Remember it well! There may have been many before him nor will he be the last but it would be interesting to track down all the embarrassing brain fades that have occurred kicking for goal.

  2. John Butler says

    Stainless, considering Jezza had won a flag as player coach as recently as 1979, the haste to declare the playing coach dead seems a little indecent in hindsight.

    Am loving your work with this.


  3. Brought back some memories there, Stainless. I was standing on the old concrete concourse right behind the goals when Blighty kicked that point

  4. Malcolm Blight had some famous kicks. Of course we have this one.

    Then the booming ‘torp’ against Carlton @ Princes Park in 1976, a goal that seems to go further each decade.

    In Round 12 1977 there was the last kick of the match, in the slush and mud of a water lashed Arden Street. He’d just kicked a point to level the score against Hawthorn but was pushed as he kicked, so was given a free kick. He took the kick, putting it out on the full !!! Thus instead of a tie, North Melbourne lost by a point.


  5. Stainless says

    Thanks all.
    Colin – nice segue into your call for other brain fades! I reckon there’d be a few from Richmond’s 37 year premiership drought (M. Richardson was particularly notable for his ability to mix howlers with moments of pure genius).
    JB – all due respect to Jezza, but the proverbial “drover’s dog” could have coached the 1979 Blues to that Premiership! I’m glad you’re enjoying the series – I hope there’s a happy ending for you :)
    Smokie – we were at opposite ends of the ground then!
    Glen – I’d forgotten about that miskick in 1977. Blighty certainly created amazing moments – as player and coach.

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