After weeks of speculation, discussion and debate among the Yellow and Black faithful, esteemed AFL football journalist Mike Sheahan now reveals his No. 1 Tiger on the list of top 50 Richmond players he’s seen throughout the past 50 years. Mike will be a special guest on Richmond’s official podcast ‘Talking Tigers’ next Tuesday (May 10) to provide an interesting insight into his top-50 Tiger rankings.
Mike Sheahan's Top 50 Tigers
1. Kevin Bartlett: 1965-1983, 403 games, 778 goals
Mike says: He is a 403-game, five-time premiership player with five best and fairest awards to his credit. Throw in a career total of 778 goals and a Norm Smith medal and his No 1 ranking is self-explanatory.
2. Royce Hart: 1967-1977, 187 games, 369 goals
Mike says: The most brilliant player to wear the yellow and black. He was the pre-eminent player in the AFL in the toughest position on the field in the late '60s and early '70s. Chronic knee problems curtailed a magnificent career.
3. Francis Bourke: 1967-1981, 300 games, 71 goals
Mike says: His unofficial title of St Francis says it all. He was everything a coach could want in a player: brave, tough, versatile, remarkably consistent, loyal...and not a moment's trouble during his 15 seasons.
4. Dale Weightman: 1978-1993, 274 games, 344 goals
Mike says: He was known as The Flea, but he was a giant in terms of his output in good times and bad. A premiership player, twice best and fairest and a committed captain for five years during lean times.
5. Geoff Raines: 1976-1982, 134 games, 55 goals
Mike says: One of the most polished, creative players of the late '70s, early '80s. A brilliant midfielder who moved like a tiger and kicked like a mule. Club champion in the premiership year of 1980.
6. Ian Stewart: 1971-1975, 78 games, 55 goals
Mike says: Played just 78 games in yellow and black, but had a profound influence on team performance and teammates. A premiership player, a best and fairest winner and an inspiration to his peers.
7. Dick Clay: 1966-1976, 213 games, 80 goals
Mike says: What a player. Equally proficient forward, midfield or back. He played in four premiership teams in eight seasons in various roles and was a highly accomplished dasher wherever he was placed.
8. Bill Barrot: 1961-1970, 120 games, 91 goals
Mike says: He was erratic, but his best was brilliant, and, the bigger the game, the more likely he was to produce his best. He was named among the best in all five of Richmond's finals in the premiership years of 1967, '69.
9. Matthew Richardson: 1993-2009, 282 games, 800 goals
Mike says: The standout player in the modern era. Only 10 players in VFL/AFL history have kicked more than his 800 goals and he was Richmond's leading goalkicker 13 times in 17 seasons. Super player, great Richmond man.
10. Kevin Sheedy: 1967-1979, 251 games, 91 goals
Mike says: I'm a huge Sheedy fan. He played midfield and back with aplomb and was deceptively efficient as a forward (91 goals). There was the natural ability and the nous, but he spent hours refining his skills and searching for way to improve.
11. Maurice Rioli: 1982-1987, 118 games, 80 goals
Mike says: The complete player. Highly skilled, superbly balanced and a great decision-maker. Club champion in 1982-83 and won the Norm Smith medal in a beaten team in the '82 Grand Final. A star.
12. Roger Dean: 1957-1973, 245 games, 204 goals
Mike says: What a player. He played more than 200 games and kicked more than 200 goals. Captained a premiership team (1969) and set a brilliant example week after week. He was a tough bugger, too.
13. Bryan Wood: 1972-1982, 209 games, 85 goals
Mike says: A genuine champion on a wing when wingers often were highly influential players (Keith Greig, Doug Hawkins, Robert Flower). He generally won the huge task of trying to contain Greig, with an excellent strike rate.
14. Barry Richardson: 1965-1974, 125 games, 134 goals
Mike says: Three flags and it would have been four but for his knees. Starred at full-back (1969) and full-forward (1974) in premiership teams. He wasn't spectacular, but he was smart and highly efficient.
15. Michael Green: 1966-1971 & 1973-1975, 146 games, 83 goals
Mike says: The ultimate big-occasion player. A member of four premiership teams and was named Richmond's best in all three finals in the '69 campaign. A high-quality ruckman who was a superb mark. Retired at 27.
16. Neil Balme: 1970-1979, 159 games, 229 goals
Mike says: His reputation as an enforcer (opposition supporters might say "thug") undermines his true worth as a player. A dual premiership ruckman/forward who kicked 229 goals including 55 in 1972.
17. David Cloke: 1974-1982 & 1990-1991, 219 games, 272 goals
Mike says: A genuine warrior in two terms with the Tigers. Twice a premiership player in yellow and black and starred in the 1980 triumph with six goals. Big and strong and a better kick his style suggested.
18. Michael Roach: 1977-1989, 200 games, 607 goals
Mike says: A hero in the premiership year of 1980 (112 goals) and is fourth for goals in the club's history. He was athletic, a spectacular mark and a prodigious kick. Great to watch, too.
19. Matthew Knights: 1988-2002, 279 games, 141 goals
Mike says: Would have been a marvel had he played in the previous generation. Brilliant on his feet, poised, smart and a beautiful kick. A beacon in the dark days of the 1990s. Best and fairest twice.
20. Mervyn Keane: 1972-1984, 238 games, 36 goals
Mike says: Only the Richmond people knew this bloke's true value. He is half-back in the team of the century, an automatic selection in Richmond's best line-up for more than 10 years. A coach's dream. Three flags.
21. Barry Rowlings: 1979-1986, 152 games, 117 goals
Mike says: Not many better-performed discards than this bloke. Gave Richmond eight seasons after being let go by Hawthorn. A best and fairest winner, a premiership player, a captain. Nice cv.
22. Jim Jess: 1976-1988, 223 games, 175 goals
Mike says: One of the foundation stones of the premiership backline of 1980. He was a dashing defender with a booming kick, who also was more than useful as a forward (175 goals). Tiger fans loved the Ghost.
23. Wayne Campbell: 1991-2005, 297 games, 172 goals
Mike says: An outstanding servant for 15 seasons, playing almost 300 games (297) and winning the best and fairest four times. Prepared himself superbly and was smart, tireless and efficient. Captain of Richmond's best-performed team of the past 33 years (2001).
24. Robert Wiley: 1979-1983, 95 games, 127 goals
Mike says: Superbly talented on-baller/forward who was the cream on the cake in the 1980 premiership season. Clever and smart (wily Wiley) and was a damaging "outside" player before the term became fashionable.
25. Wayne Walsh: 1968 & 1972-1975, 88 games, 30 goals
Mike says: Played in two premiership teams and three Grand Finals (1972-74) and was regularly among the best in September. A dashing defender/winger tailormade for the Hafey game plan of run straight and kick it long.
26. Robert McGhie: 1973-1978, 81 games, 0 goals
Mike says: Richmond grabbed him after he fell out of favor at Footscray at the tender age of 21 and he played in premierships in his first two seasons. Tall and aggressive and a raking left-foot kick.
27. Brett Deledio: 2005-2016, 173 goals
Mike says: A highly-talented, versatile player who has been Richmond's best performer during the past 10 years. Some of us have expected a little more, but those who know better speak of him in glowing terms.
28. Kevin Morris: 1971-1976, 110 games, 71 goals
Mike says: Played in the three Grand Finals of 1972-74 (two flags) then won the best and fairest when the Tigers finished third in '75. He could play on the ball, back or forward, excelling at half-back.
29. Alex Rance: 2009-2016, 8 goals
Mike says: Has become a star, perhaps the most valuable key defender in the competition. All-Australian in the past two seasons and a reliable performer on the big stage. Has improved dramatically in the past four years.
30. Trent Cotchin: 2008-2016, 92 goals
Mike says: His reputation has been tainted a little in the past 12 months, but he is a three-time best and fairest winner and a classy player totally committed to the cause. His work ethic is faultless, but needs to do more with the ball in hand.
31. Jack Riewoldt: 2007-2016, 445 goals
Mike says: The club's leading goalkicker for the past six years, booting 50-plus each time. He's a best and fairest winner and twice All-Australian. He can do a bit wrong, but he is critically important to team success with his energy and his talent.
32. Geoff Strang: 1965-1971, 88 games, 0 goals
Mike says: Played just 88 games in his seven seasons at Punt Road, but was a dashing half-back in the premiership years of 1967 and '69. He was quick and direct, and was a strong, direct kick. At his best in 1969.
33. Paul Broderick: 1994-2001, 169 games, 90 goals
Mike says: Top-quality player, this bloke, despite his modest reputation outside Richmond. An exceptional ball-winner with good hands and a classical left-foot kick. Played 131 games in a row from 1991-98 and won the best and fairest in 1996.
34. Dustin Martin: 2010-2016, 142 goals
Mike says: Perhaps it's a fraction early for Dusty, but he has been placed in the best and fairest in four of the past five years. He is powerful and dynamic and the most likely matchwinner on the Richmond list.
35. Darren Gaspar: 1996-2007, 207 games, 22 goals
Mike says: The 1994 No 1 draft pick lasted just two years in Sydney before becoming a highly-efficient defender at Richmond. Won a best and fairest in 2001, a rare achievement for a full-back, and he was a capable and reliable performer at Tigerland for the bulk of his 207 games.
36. Mark Lee: 1977-1991, 233 games, 94 goals
Mike says: Looked to be a superstar in the making in the premiership year of 1980. His reputation has been tainted by his performance in the 1982 Grand Final loss, but he won the best and fairest two years later and went on to play 233 games.
37. Rex Hunt: 1968-1974, 113 games, 121 goals
Mike says: He is best known as Rex the flamboyant radio caller, but he was a high-class player. He was a brilliant mark who played key positions forward and back. He was a fine left-foot kick, too, although he could spray them far and wide in front of goal. Was a member of three Grand Final teams.
38. John Northey: 1963-1970, 118 games, 192 goals
Mike says: Built like a twig, but smart like a fox. A clever half-forward who carried the nickname Swooper and, if you saw him play, you knew why. A fixture in the great Richmond teams of 1966-69. He kicked 49 goals in the premiership year of 1967 and also played in the '69 premiership team.
39. Craig Lambert: 1988-1993, 123 games, 53 goals
Mike says: Much better than he looked. Street-smart in footy terms, comfortable in the hurly burly and extremely creative with his hands. Not too flash when he chose to kick, but a solid contributor and leader during his six seasons with the Tigers.
40. Brendon Gale: 1990-2001, 244 games, 209 goals
Mike says: He spent 12 seasons (244 games) playing in the toughest roles in football _ centre-half-forward and ruck. He could do a bit wrong, but his endeavour and courage never were questioned. Kicked more than 200 goals.
41. Joel Bowden: 1996-2009, 265 games, 174 goals
Mike says: Better than many are willing to concede. Started forward, where his left foot was so productive then played on all the big gorillas in his time at full-back, and won plenty of his own ball along the way. Won two best and fairests and was top four in three other years.
42. Billy Brown: 1963-1971, 130 games, 124 goals
Mike says: Overshadowed by the big names of the late 1960s yet still played in two premiership teams. A short, lightly framed winger cum rover, he was quick and brave, and clever in front of goal. Kicked 32 goals in 1968.
43. Duncan Kellaway: 1993-2004, 180 games, 12 goals
Mike says: His teammates loved him, and that's the ultimate accolade. Not much style about him, but he was as tough as teak and there was never a task that overwhelmed him. Did it really matter that he couldn't kick? Not really.
44. Bruce Monteath: 1975-1980, 118 games, 198 goals
Mike says: Will be forever remembered as the premiership captain who started the Grand Final on the bench (1980). Kicked 43 goals that year after topping the goalkicking table in 1978 with 55. A classy player who departed Punt Road at 25.
45. Jeff Hogg: 1986-1993, 144 games, 306 goals
Mike says: Fancy spending the bulk of your career at full forward in a team that never finished higher than 10th. Hogg was mobile for such a tall man (190cm), neat above his head and a long kick. He topped Richmond's goalkicking in five seasons.
46. Kane Johnson: 2003-2008, 116 games, 32 goals
Mike says: Better player than he looked. Outstanding in his first four seasons in yellow and black, winning a best and fairest and finishing second in two other years. He wasn't flash, but he was smart and efficient. Captain for four years.
47. Chris Newman: 2002-2015, 268 games, 56 goals
Mike says: Played 268 games, was captain for four years and never put a foot wrong. Regularly top 10 in the best and fairest and bled for the cause. The ultimate team player.
48. Tony Free: 1987-1996, 133 games, 46 goals
Mike says: Might have been Richmond's favorite player in the dark days of the late 1980s and early '90s. Aggressive and brave, and a ferocious competitor. Cut down by a knee injury in 1995 after leading the Tigers to a 5-0 start to the season and managed just one more game (1996).
49. Michael Pickering: 1984-1991, 136 games, 160 goals
Mike says: I love blokes who give your their all every time they play. Pickering was one. Not quick, but could run all day and was brave and tough. He was a brilliant mark, too. A best and fairest (1988) in a team that finished a respectable 10th.
50. Andrew Kellaway: 1998-2006, 172 games, 30 goals
Mike says: He was a slow burn and proved plenty of people wrong when he finally got his opportunity at 23. Played on talls and smalls in the same committed fashion. Was club champion and All-Australian in a good year (2000) and finished with 172 games.