The Hafey Years

When I think back to my childhood, a damn long time ago, the footy side that always sticks in my mind was Tom Hafey’s Richmond. Circa forty years later I still perceive them as the best I’ve  seen. I have just finished reading the 2014 edition of, The Hafey Years; Reliving a golden Era at Richmond, by Elliot Cartledge

As the 2016 version of Richmond  unravels  it is intriguing to view this halcyon period, probably, no certainly, their greatest era. The ruthlessness on the field was matched off the field as the club pulled itself back together after nigh on two decades in the doldrums. No flags since 1944, a run of bottom four finishes including a wooden spoon,a match against st St Kilda in the early 1960s when they were held goalless, Richmond were not travelling well. Over the following few years this changed. Some hard heads got involved,  a major restructure of the the board took place,  a new coach, former player Tom Hafey was appointed and they set about changing the playing list and culture.

Graeme Richmond is pivotal in all of this.  His drive, his fanaticism helped produce the greatness of the era. His pursuit and signing of new recruits, the word in players ears before games, the disdain for other clubs and the VFL per se, topped of with his brutality, possibly best exemplified during the half time clash with Essendon at Windy Hill in 1974, exemplified him. All these attributes helped make Richmond the great club it was in that period; all these attributes helped bring down Tom Hafey and helped consign the club to the wilderness it has languished in since the early 1980s.

The enmity with Carlton is well documented. There were three grand finals, 1969, 1972 and 1973 with Richmond winning in 1969 and 1973 and Carlton in 1972. The mutual disdain both sides felt gets a good plug. Apparently it goes way back to the days of Percy Bentley, though the Hafey era saw this further accentuated. The report of Neville Crowe for allegedly hitting John Nicholls in the 1967 finals series, with Crowe being rubbed out and missing the 1967 flag, Robert Walls trying to kick the head of Ian Owen at Princess Park in 1969 , the brutal charge by Vin Waite on Eric Moore in the 1969 grand final,  all of it came together that sunny 1973 grand final with Richmond winning on both the scoreboard and in the physical clashes. Vin Waite’s brutality from 1969 was returned with interest by the big Richmond forwards.

The players views of each other are intriguing. Royce Hart, acknowledged as an all time great; the AFL centre half forward in the team of the century, though not overly popular with team mates. Billy Barrot, quaintly described in the old colloquial term of manic-depressive, which is correctly known as Bi-polar Affective disorder, was a character of note . His famous punch on with Kevin  Sheedy gets  good coverage. Brian “Whale” Roberts, whose off field presence seemed more important than his on field presence gets a good write up, his transfer to South Melbourne during the John Pitura trade, was a watershed moment in the unravelling of the Hafey era.  Within a year  he fell out with former team mate Ian Stewart who was coaching him at South Melbourne. He doesn’t hold back on his view of this period.

I have also just finished the marvellous book by the British economist/geographer David Harvey, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism. But at no point in this book does he mention footy, thus i don’t see the point reviewing it. There’s a pile of books on the table I plan to read into including one called Play On by a chap called John Harms. All will be read



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  1. Dr Rocket says

    Love your work Glen!

    But no bio on Tommy, or review can neglect to mention the years at Shepp!

    The Shepp premiership teams ranked alongside the Richmond ones on the wall in Tommy’s billiard room!


  2. Hey Glen

    like you I was charmed into supporting the Tigers as a result of growing up as a kid in Horsham and seeing Tom Hafey’s Richmond era unfold. Saw 5 premierships before I turned 21, but none since!

    Carlton were the mortal enemy of that era, and whilst we played them in 69,72 and 73 we unfortunately didn’t win in 1972. Despite kicking 22.18.150 on Grand Final Day, we lost that by 27 points. The other Carlton Grand Final disappointment was our last one in 1982 – I can recall Bruce Tempany breaking him arm so badly that he never played for the Tigers again I think.

    Whilst I admired and respected the manner in which Graeme Richmond ensured success in that era, it wouldnt work now, given salary caps, drafting and nominated playing lists. The removal of zones also had some influence no doubt.

    Tom Hafey was a great coach, his record at Tigerland is fantastic, but he also took Collingwood to many grand finals, but they couldn’t win one! He was very successful at Shepparton as well.

    A great era for Tigers fans and thanks for sharing it!

  3. David Harvey. Best on ground. Take him, Neil Harvey, PJ Harvey and make one big wallbanger.

    Tasmanian geographer Richmond fans of the world, unite!

  4. John Butler says

    Glen, I haven’t read the Cartledge book, but I’d be surprised if the highly selective portrayal here of the Carlton/Richmond rivalry is representative of its contents. To imply everything Richmond did was retaliation for prior offence is laughable.

    There are a number of Carlton players with their own stories of broken jaws, etc courtesy of Tiger opponents. It was a malaise wider than these two clubs during the period – St Kilda and Hawthorn dished out plenty to each other in the 1971 GF, for example. Few prisoners were taken in general across the league.

    As for the rest, one would presume t-shirts and tea figure prominently.

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