VFL 1982 Grand Final: You really can’t stop the music

By Alex Wadelton.

Early on a Sunday morning, Channel Seven’s digital channel, the creatively named 7Two, features classics from the VFL vaults. This week’s was the 1982 Grand Final between Carlton and Richmond.

Now before any younger readers begin thinking this is a fictional piece, Richmond truly did, once upon a time, compete in finals series. Long before the creation of the “five year plan”, “the spit on the coach” plan, and the “recruitment of a thirty year old with a drug addiction and dodgy hammies will be our saviour plan”, the Tigers would eat ‘em alive come finals time.

Legends like Kevin Bartlett, Jim Jess, Michael Roach, David Cloke and Maurice Rioli roamed the grass, lifting premiership cups like it was going out of style. Which for Richmond fans, it well and truly has.

As the players ready themselves for the first bounce, there is a very odd sight indeed out on the ground… The Village People are playing for Carlton. Ken Hunter is The Construction Worker, Phil Maylin is The Cowboy, Peter Bosustow is The Indian, while their lead singer, Val Perovic, is most definitely The Biker.

Their white shorts are so tight, Warwick Capper would have looked like Eminem in comparison.

As soon as the game commences, their infectious combination of co-ordinated dance moves, finger waving and catchy pop songs sees them bounce out to a three goal lead before Richmond even has a chance to get their leather chaps on. Goals flow like drink at a Carlton Booze cruise, as the Dominator Wayne Johnston dominates in a dominating display of dominance.

With Peter Landy, Lou Richards and Bobby Skilton commentating, it doesn’t take long for a “good old-fashioned Donny Brook” to flare up as players go flying left, right and centre like police at a Mike Tyson press conference.

However, just as it looks like the Blues are going to run away with it Forrest Gump style, the silky smooth Rioli and KB conjure up some magic and keep the Tiges in the contest.


Quarter time. Carlton 4.7.31 to Richmond 4.3 27

The start of the second quarter is the polar opposite of the first as David Cloke, the only Cloke to be any good past the age of 22, slots two goals in a couple of minutes to put Richmond up.

The ascendancy continues as they pile on seven out of eight goals, before The Construction Worker Ken Hunter stops the music briefly to goal for Carlton.

Deep in the Richmond forward line, a colossal match-up between Jim “The Ghost” Jess and Bruce “The Flying Doormat” Doull is in full swing. Hair flowing, beards swaying, it’s a battle of hirsute proportions, with Doull invariably winning out. The only win for Jess in the first half is when he thumps Ken Hunter.

But, no matter, Cloke puts his third for the quarter home and the Tigers are eleven points to the good at half time.

However, they’re also one player down, with Alan McConville sickeningly kicking and breaking Bruce Tempany’s arm with a classic “kicking in danger” free kick. Ouch.

Half time: Richmond 9.4 58 to Carlton 6.11 47

The second half begins with The Ghost again cleaning up the Construction Worker. Then a disgraceful holding the ball decision to The Rhodes Scholar Mike Fitzpatrick gifts Carlton a goal.

All of a sudden the Blues unleash a tsunami of attacks the like of which haven’t been seen since Richmond in the previous quarter and Carlton the quarter before that.

Just as their run-on picks up to Usain Bolt pace, a young lass prances onto the field having forgotten most of her Bluebird outfit. Helen D’Amico’s the name, being totally wasted and naked except for a Carlton scarf is her game.

The Dominator lays his best tackle for the game so far to get her off the ground and quicker than you can shake two cans, the Blues have kicked six in a row to grab a three goal lead as the siren sounds.

Three quarter time. Carlton 11.15 81 to Richmond 9.10 64

Tiger hopes flicker early in the last as Bartlett goals from a big Jim Jess contest deep in the forward line to put them within two kicks of glory. The Ghost finally escapes Doull to kick his first and puts Richmond five points down and with all the momentum.

The ball runs from end to end, hard crunches and contested marking being the feature. Graeme Landy is collected and claret flows from his scone in a tortured analogy. With no blood rule to get in the way of manliness he soldiers on. Still dazed, an ineffectual handball from him lands straight into the lap of the bearded, helmeted Rod Ashman who gets it to The Indian Bosustow to give the Blues two goals of breathing space.

As the contest wears on, it’s becoming clear that Carlton’s greater proportion of moustaches and beards is going to be the difference.

Val Perovic has blanketed Disco Roach all day on the ground and in the moustache stakes.

Mike Fitzpatrick is stronger overhead and over-lip than Emmet Dunne.

Jim Jess has competed strongly, but Doull’s thicker beard and stronger fist has clearly outplayed him.

Kevin Bartlett has been gallant all day, but his clean shaven look and balding bonce was never going to trump The Village People.

Likewise, if Norm Smith medallist Rioli had have done the team thing and grown a Fu Manchu they might have had the legs to go with Carlton in the last.

But it’s not to be, as late Carlton goals seal the win and send Blue hearts a-fluttering.

The siren rings out and YMCA blares out of the ground speakers.

Yet More Carlton Achievement.

Final Score. Carlton 14.19 103 def Richmond 12.13 85.

Goal kickers:

Carlton- Ashman 2, Johnston 2, Fitzpatrick 2, McConville 2, Bosustow 1, Harmes 1, Hunter 1, Maclure 1, Marcou 1, Maylin 1

Richmond- Bartlett 3, Cloke 3, Rioli 3, Jess 1, Raines 1, Weightman 1


Carlton- Fitzpatrick, Doull, Perovic, Johnston

Richmond- Rioli, Cloke, Bartlett, Lee


  1. Darren Smith says

    Excellent summary Alex.As an impressionable 15yo sitting at ground level, Helen was a real highlight. The other highlight was arriving early to watch StKilda compete in a Grand Final (Reserves), which at the time was unthinkable. We lost ! To Geelong !!

    PS. did you mean Peter McConville as the arm – breaker; who was on his way to a fine career at Moorabbin

  2. I happened upon one of these replays of a 70s GF and was amazed at how the umpiring interpretations have changed so dramatically compared to these days. For example, any contact (not just a hand)to the back of a player attempting a mark was a free kick and the players seemed to accept it as a given – these days there would be uproar!

  3. Sydney Malakellis says

    Oops, I did mean Peter McConville, Darren. Boy, did it look like it tickled!

  4. I sang with the little choir that backed Rolf Harris. I am wondering if I can some pre-match entertainment video or photos from amywhere? Maybe too long ago!

  5. I remember getting a call at work (in Adelaide) on the day before the game from a mate who said he had a spare GF ticket and did I want it. A quick call to book a flight and I was off after work to my first Grand Final. There were about a dozen blokes dossed down in a Richmond bedsit and, after the pubs closed (think it was 10pm in those days?), the drinking continued as we watched the traditional Grand Final marathon overnight. Needless to say not much sleep was had and I was extremely dusty when we joined 107,000 in the rain at the MCG (standing room ticket of course). Standing on empty cans not only gave a slightly more elevated view but helped avoid your feet getting wet (and it wasn’t just from the rain).
    I could not believe the bravery of Kenny Hunter. After one particular Jimmy Jess bump I was sure he would be gone for the game but he stayed on to be one of the Blue’s best (no interchanges in those days). While Rioli’s skills were dazzling, i would have given Kenny the Norm Smith for courage alone.
    It’s amazing that everyone still remembers Helen d’Amico’s name 30 years on!!

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