From the Barossa to the MCG: The story of Richmond’s Daryl Freame

 

 

 

Back in the late 1970s, the life of a University student was more about discovering the joys of freedom following the stringent routine of secondary school, school uniforms, homework, school sport and keeping your bedroom tidy. We were old enough to go to war, attend pubs, drink alcohol, drive a car and stay out late at night. We earned the right! In many respects the academic side of University life, particularly in the initial years, was superfluous to the new world we were discovering.

 

And thanks to tertiary education you got to meet new people and make new friends. By virtue of my brother attending Swinburne Tech, I not only got to make new friends at the teacher’s college  where I was studying. I was also introduced to a host of other people courtesy of my brother.

 

The Swinburne College of Technology (as it was called in the 70s and 80s) was situated in Hawthorn near the corner of Burwood and Glenferrie Roads. There was plenty of public transport surrounding Swinburne including trams up and down Glenferrie Road, the Glenferrie train station and multiple bus routes. And it was within close walking distance to the Governor Hotham Hotel. Back in the late 70s and early 80s the ‘Gov’ wasn’t the most palatial of establishments but it served the nearby students extremely well.

 

The relationship between Swinburne and The Governor Hotham was very strong exemplified by the sharing of security services. Ball Bearing was a prominent member of the Hells Angels and was the Gov’s resident bouncer. And when Swinburne would hold events including the Annual Ball; Ball Bearing would provide his services. Needless to say, there were very few incidents that required Ball Bearing’s intervention – no-one messed with Ball Bearing!

 

Swinburne had an excellent student union which catered for the needs of its members. Not only did it have an outstanding sports program it catered for a diverse range of interests including the arts, theatre and other cultural activities. Wednesday afternoons historically were left free from lectures and tutorials to allow students to explore extra-curricular activities.

 

And what they did exceptionally well was provide live music entertainment. Back in those days the Melbourne pub rock scene was thriving and most of the Universities across Melbourne also hosted the plethora of bands on hand. Bands such as Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons, Kevin Borich Express, Ariel, Skyhooks, Cold Chisel, Phil Manning, Captain Matchbox, Split Enz, Renee Geyer, Paul Kelly and The Dots, and Australian Crawl would frequently play at the universities and colleges all over town.

 

At Swinburne we would enjoy a two-hour lunchtime set of music, cheap cold beer in plastic cups and afterwards venture to the Governor Hotham Hotel to conclude the afternoon’s festivities.

 

It was during this period that I met a fellow called Daryl Freame. Daryl was studying Commerce and Accounting at Swinburne and I was fascinated by his clothing attire – it was a quasi-school uniform of sorts. Every time I saw Daryl, he was wearing black sponsored track suit bottoms, in summer a light T-Shirt and in winter a heavy pullover. The obligatory white track shoes adorned his size 13 feet. Daryl had a shock of puffy red hair and always had a Cheshire cat grin on his face. I sort of recognised him when I first met him, but it wasn’t until my brother told me he played with Richmond in the VFL that the penny dropped. I had seen him on the tele on Sunday afternoons playing in the Commodore Cup. Or was it the Army Reserve Cup? Either way I had seen him play footy.

 

Being a footy nut myself we quickly bonded and became good mates. To earn a bit extra cash on top of his match payments at Richmond, Daryl would do the odd school footy clinic in the club’s metropolitan zone. One day in 1979 I received a phone call from Daryl at about 11.00am asking for my help. You see he and Tiger teammate Brian (BT) Taylor were scheduled to conduct a school clinic during the school’s lunch break. BT was a late withdrawal leaving Freamy stranded with about 80 kids. “I need you to be Brian Taylor at a school footy clinic,” he said down the line. “What? What are you talking about? I can’t do that?” I replied.

 

“Yes, you can, you’re tall, got dark hair and I’ve got a Richmond jumper for you. Just wear runners and track suit bottoms and the kids won’t know the difference! I’ll do all the talking you just follow my instructions,” he pleaded.

 

Not wanting to let my new mate down I crumbled and acquiesced to his request.

 

So, there we were out on the school oval in front of nearly 80 kids wearing our Richmond jumpers. Daryl got the kids to sit down in front of us so he could explain the next hours activities and show some pointers about marking, handballing and kicking. He started the session by introducing himself to the kids. “Hi boys and girls my name’s Daryl Freame and I play for the Richmond Football Club. And standing next to me is my teammate Brian Taylor who plays full-forward and kicks lots of goals,” he said with a completely straight face.

 

I stood there in disbelief and tried to contain myself from fits of laughter but with supervising teachers looking on I nodded my head and gave a feeble wave to the gawking kids.

 

We got the clinic underway and the kids had a great time running, kicking, jumping and laughing. I kept looking at Daryl to make sure I was adhering to his instructions. He would glance across with a huge smile and a thumbs up. When the clinic came to an end, I was relieved and ready to get out of the place quick smart. But no, the little blighters wanted autographs from their newfound heroes one of which was a complete fraud. So, there I stood manufacturing a Brian Taylor autograph for the none the wiser kids. When one of the teachers came up to me as we were about to depart and said, “Thanks for coming today, Brian,” I had had enough. “Come on, Daryl, let’s go!” I barked. When we got to the car and drove off, I couldn’t help myself. “Mate, don’t ever do that to me again!” Then we burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter for about 15 minutes – our friendship had been sealed.

 

Daryl Freame was recruited from Essex Heights and played in the Under 19s Premiership team in 1975 and the Reserves Premiership team in 1977. He played one senior game in ’77 as nineteen-year-old, six senior games in 1978 and six senior games in 1979.  1980 was to be a make or break year for the nuggetty mid-fielder as he competed for spots against established champions such as Geoff Raines, Rob Wiley, Dale Weightman and Barry Rowlings.

 

 

Daryl Freame as a junior player with Essex Heights

 

A member of the Richmond Board approached Daryl one night during pre-season to tell him of the club’s intention to transfer him to St Kilda who were keen on adding to its mid-field stocks. Daryl was receptive to the notion and was preparing to meet with the Saints hierarchy including newly appointed coach Alex Jesaulenko. But Tiger coach Tony Jewell who was not privy to the decision to move Freame on intervened and in no uncertain terms told him he was staying put at Tigerland.

 

Daryl and I would meet up over the summer months for a kick of the footy at a local park in between pre-season training sessions at Punt Rd Oval. He had struggled with a run of injuries, predominantly hamstring strains in the previous three seasons and he concentrated on building his leg strength during the off-season period. As the 1980 season got under way Daryl found himself in the Reserves amassing possessions week-in-week-out but the senior team under coach Tony Jewell was dominating the competition.

 

By the middle of winter Daryl had yet again twinged one of his problematic hammys and was ruled out for a few weeks. It was around this time that the Australian Inter-Collegiate Games were to be held during a weeklong carnival in Adelaide. The week before departing for Adelaide Swinburne had been beaten by a strong Christ Church College team in the Victorian championships and I recall being seconded to umpiring duties that day. It was in the days of the one umpire system. I foolishly accepted the task at hand and was subjected to a tirade of abuse and admonishment throughout the course of the match. The Victorian competition featured teams from Rusden College, Footscray Institute, Frankston Teachers College, Toorak Teachers College and Burwood Teachers College. And some handy players would often be seen gracing the dung heap grounds which hosted matches. VFL players such as David Glasscott, Stephen Icke, Merv Harbinson and the like would prance around the park doing as they pleased against teams made up of dope-smoking, beer-drinking university hacks.

 

Somehow the Swinburne hierarchy convinced Daryl to join the team in Adelaide more so for on and off field moral support than anything else. But once the competition got underway Daryl’s competitive juices got the better of him and he thought his hammy was good enough for him to lurk around the goal square and hopefully contribute on the scoreboard. There was no expectation from his teammates for any defensive pressure, so Daryl was quite happy to allow his opponents to run off him – chasing was a bridge too far for his troublesome hamstring.

 

It became apparent to me very early in the week that this sports carnival was more of a test of endurance off the field than on. Basically, it was a glorified piss-up with some games of football along the way. In fact, after the second night the Swinburne camp was sent reeling with the news that one of its basketball stars was in hospital having his stomach pumped and being treated for alcoholic poisoning. And sharing The Scotties Hotel in North Adelaide with the Netball team was definitely not a good idea and in no way helped the teams focus on pre-game preparation and high performance.

 

Each night of the week there was some sort of social event organised at various clubs and pubs around the city. This led to some very unsavoury and uncouth deeds that were beyond the pale even in the politically incorrect times of the 1980s.

 

The carnival ‘rest day’ was on the Wednesday and the Swinburne Sports Coordinator, Hugh McKechnie though it would be a good idea to hire a minibus and take the footy team on a tour of the wineries in the Barossa Valley. Upon reflection not a smart move. The day started off quite civilised with the boys elegantly swilling their small portions and spitting the liquid substance into the silver spittoon with great decorum and accuracy. However, after about the fourth of fifth winery, things started to unravel. The boys had shaken off the hangover from the night before and were now in full swing. At about 4.00pm just, as things were starting get totally out of control, Mr McKechnie somehow bundled his charges back in the minibus and headed back to Adelaide. It was an eventful trip back to our lodgings with plenty of ‘we want a, we want a wee’ stops, brown eyes at unsuspecting commuters, lewd jokes and loud singing of Australian Crawl’s The Boys Light Up!

 

Somehow, Swinburne had made its way into the Grand Final against a powerful Footscray Institute team. The final was played on a Friday afternoon and it had been a long week both on and off the field. The Footscray boys took their football a little more seriously than the Swinburne outfit and had tucked themselves in bed before 10.00pm the night before the game. Meanwhile, the Swinburne team were planning its tactics at a North Adelaide Hotel till the early hours of the morning. Needless to say, we were comfortably defeated and drowned our sorrows before heading back to Melbourne the next day.

 

Daryl headed back to Melbourne straight after the game with the knowledge he had been selected in the Richmond Reserve grade team to play at South Melbourne’s Lakeside Oval in the Commodore Cup on Sunday. To say his week’s preparation for that match was less than ideal would be an understatement but Daryl fronted up and was near best-on-ground. It was the last round of the home and away season and following that game the Richmond match committee added Daryl Freame, Ian Scrimshaw, Peter Welsh and Michael Nugent to the squad who would participate in the upcoming finals series.

 

The following week the Tigers took on Carlton in the Qualifying Final at VFL Park which was to become famous for the half-time stoush between Carlton’s coach Percy Jones and Richmond’s Tony Jewell. The Tigers went on to record a comfortable win and progressed to the Second Semi Final. Daryl Freame sat in the stands that day and pondered on his fading prospects of breaking into the senior team.

 

The Qualifying Final win against the Blues took a heavy toll on the Tigers as they entered preparations for the Second Semi-Final again to be played at VFL Park against Geelong. Graeme Landy was suspended for four weeks for an errant forearm to Ken Sheldon’s head. A few Richmond players pulled up sore after that game but Cloke, Monteath and Rowlings we sure to come back into the side.

 

Freame trained strongly for the week leading into the second semi-final and was free of any thigh or hamstring problems that had plagued his career. After training on the Thursday night, coach Jewell informed Freame that he had broken into the team and would be on the bench for his first senior game of the season. Landy was out suspended and Barry Rowlings and Bryan Wood failed to come up.

 

Thanks to an eight-goal haul from veteran Kevin Bartlett, the Tigers made their way into the Grand Final defeating Geelong 14.11.95 to 11.5.71. Peter Welsh, the former Hawthorn back pocket player, was playing off the interchange bench a month earlier in the Reserves and had fought his way into the team. He did an outstanding job tagging the dangerous and hard-running Geelong wingman Mick Turner and had virtually secured his spot for the remainder of the finals series. And Daryl Freame came onto the ground early in the third term replacing Paul Sarah who suffered a fractured cheekbone and gathered five kicks and four handballs – but would it be enough to cement his spot in the team in a fortnight’s time?

 

Meanwhile Geelong were to face Collingwood for a spot in the Grand Final in the Preliminary Final again at VFL Park the following week. Spurred on pre-game by a motivational film of the 1970 Joe Frazier-Jimmy Ellis world title fight, Collingwood coach Tom Hafey told his charges that Frazier kept going with grit and determination although out of his class and that’s what the Magpies did that day when it seemed they were opposed to a better credentialed Geelong side. Playing in its third consecutive final, the Magpies held on for a four-point victory and earned the right to once again take on the might of the Tigers and play off in its second consecutive Grand Final, having gone down to the Blues in 1979.

 

Training during Grand Final week at Punt Road Oval was short and sharp with a focus on precise skills and quick ball movement. It was a cold, wet week leading into Grand Final day and the MCG was expected to be on the heavy side. Freame trained well and was hopeful of being selected as one of five on the interchange bench when the match committee selected the team on Thursday night.

 

And when Ian Scrimshaw, Bruce Monteath, Daryl Freame, Denis Collins and Michael Nugent were named Darryl knew that club Captain Bruce Monteath was certain to play leaving one spot up for grabs amongst the remaining four players.

 

The Friday before the 1980 Grand Final, Daryl had no expectation of pulling on the boots the next day so much so he didn’t bother attending the Grand Final Parade in the inner city streets of Melbourne. Bruce Monteath was a certainty to play and he had played just the one game for the entire season whilst Denis Collins had played 17, Ian Scrimshaw 6 and had played well in the second semi-final. Michael Nugent was a youngster who had managed four senior games. Collins missed the Second Semi-Final and had only managed four kicks and two handballs in the Qualifying Final win over Carlton. To help settle his nerves, Daryl I spent a few hours with a couple of mates at The Auburn Hotel – Daryl quietly sipped an orange juice and left around 8.30pm.

 

“When I got to the MCG at about quarter time of the Reserves, I sat in the players’ enclosure with wives and girlfriends and I was pretty relaxed – I had convinced myself I would be a spectator. Just before half-time of the Reserves, most of the Richmond players started to make their way down and into the rooms. I remained seated,” Daryl recalled.

 

“Then I saw Tony Jewell coming up the steps and he sat down beside me. I thought, here we go, he’s going to tell me I’ve missed out. He then said how do you feel. I feel good I replied. How’s your legs – hammys? Yep I’m good; no issues. Ok then – you better get into the rooms and get changed, you’re in the side on the bench. And with that I made my way down.”

 

1980 Grand Final Pen Pic

 

 

The 1980 VFL Grand Final was played in front of a crowd of 113,461 spectators and the Tigers obliterated the Magpies by a margin of 81 points. And when Kevin Bartlett booted his sixth goal mid-way through the last quarter, Daryl Freame was still sitting on the interchange bench.

 

“I was losing hope of getting a run. I was just thinking, even if I get one or two minutes I’ll be grateful. I didn’t want to be a Premiership player who never laid foot on the ground. Then with about eight minutes to go I got the call. Dale Weightman came off and the runner told me I was on. I just wanted to touch the ball. I got two kicks, one of them from the wing to KB and I followed up and laid a shepherd on Stan Magro. I think KB kicked his seventh goal from that piece of play,” said Freame 40 years on.

 

And so, Daryl Freame who had made his way from the Barossa Valley to the MCG, was crowned a VFL Premiership player and, for the coming months, enjoyed the spoils of the historic victory but also his remarkable journey against the odds.

 

Ten years down the track Daryl discovered the events surrounding his selection. Denis Collins was pencilled in to sit next to Bruce Monteath that day but failed to attend a pyche session with Rudi Webester the Thursday prior. Not impressed and with the MCG a little heavy Freame got the call up and the rest is history.

 

Daryl played one more year at Richmond but again was plagued by injury and managed just two senior games. In 1982 he ventured west and played with the Perth Football Club for two seasons before playing some bush footy and eventually coaching Scarborough FC in the Sunday league.

 

A few years back Richmond Board member and 1980 Premiership player Emmett Dunne convinced his fellow Board members that every living Richmond Premiership player should receive Life Membership of the club. And so, in 2016 prior to a Richmond game in Perth, Rob Wiley, Bruce Monteath and Daryl Freame were presented with their Richmond Football Club Life Membership certificates.

 

Life Membership presentation, Perth, 2017

 

Only two players in the history of the Richmond Football Club are premiership players at all grades; fourths, Under 19s, Reserves and Seniors – Emmett Dunn and Daryl Freame. In his five years at senior level from 1977 to 1981, Daryl Freame played a total of 17 games and booted five goals.

 

Darryl worked for the Australian Tax Office for over 30 years out of its Perth offices in Hay Street and is now retired and spends most days looking after his young family.

 

He still has the long-sleeved number 44 jumper he wore on September 27, 1980 and cherishes the memories of that remarkable year.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Richard Griffiths.

 

Read more from Richard Griffiths HERE.

 

 

To read Phil Dimitriadis’s suggestion a Daryl Freame Medal should be struck click HERE.

 

 

 

The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE

 

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Comments

  1. A thoroughly enjoyable read thank you Richard. I’m an acquaintance of Michael Nugent and sent a link to him. His response verbatim “Thanks for the article. I remember the 1980 season well. When Tony Jewell read out the team in the rooms prior to the Grand Final, Ian Scrimshaw was shattered. I was young and remember thinking that it’s ok as I’ll get to play in the finals next year. Little did I know…..
    I was overseas travelling around Europe at the time and was unaware the Tiges were even in the GF. Of interest now is the discovery that Peter Allen was the main entertainment. Presumably he did well as barely a word of coverage and no ongoing criticism.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Really liked this tale Richard. Any chance of you filling in for BT for the rest of the finals coverage?

  3. Richard Griffiths says

    Wow wee!

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