The original ‘Football Life’ was a magazine published from the late 1960s through until the late 70s. It was an official publication of the then Victorian Football League.
For a super-keen, young footy fan at the time, Football Life was a “must-read” when it hit the news-stands each month, packed with great action pics and informative, entertaining stories.
The August 1971 copy of Football Life (at the hard-to-believe price of just 30 cents), contained the following feature item on Richmond captain of the day, Roger Dean.
The Tiger stalwart was in his 15th season of league football and fourth as the Club’s skipper (he would finish his career at the end of the 1973 season with 245 games, 204 goals, and acknowledgment as one of Richmond’s all-time greats).
He had led the Tigers to the 1969 premiership and, two years earlier, had been a key member of the drought-breaking ’67 flag side.
The Football Life article of August ’71 focused on Dean’s so-called ability to ‘milk’ free kicks from the men-in-white (as they always were back then). It also paid tribute to his marvelous versatility, inspirational leadership and sheer football talent.
Under the heading: TIGER THEY CALL ‘THE ACTOR’, here is the article in full . . .
“Some football fans say Richmond captain Roger Dean is the greatest “actor” in the business.
It’s true he is no “bit” player in the role of winning free kicks on the football field. He has been tabbed “The Actor” and “Autumn Leaves” for his keen sense of drama in trying to catch the umpire’s eye.
And he has packed much into his 200 odd games and 15 years with the Tigers.
He’s a pretty well known figure at Harrison House on Tribunal nights, having appeared there “at least eight or nine times”.
But mostly he’s been there as the “injured party”.
“Some terrible things have happened to me. They all love hitting little blokes,” was his quote of the year.
His most recent appearance was after the Collingwood-Richmond clash on June 26. He was charged with having struck Collingwood’s Ted Potter, but the tribunal found him not guilty. After the decision, Dean said: “I don’t profess to be an angel on the football field, but I am innocent, definitely innocent, in this case.”
The only time Roger has been suspended was after his first game as captain of Richmond in 1968.
“I was a trifle excited because it was my first game as skipper and I was suspended for four weeks for striking Collingwood rover Gary Wallis.”
In 1963 Roger and Ron Barassi were involved in an incident that many people claim cost Melbourne a premiership.
After the incident, Barassi, who was then Melbourne captain and a match-winning ruck-rover, was charged with striking Dean.
It was the end of the home-and-away season and Barassi was suspended for four games and missed the finals.
Without him, the Demons lost the preliminary final to Hawthorn.
Some say that was Roger’s greatest piece of “acting”, but he denies this.
Were the names “The Actor” and “Autumn Leaves” justified? Does he have a habit of falling to the ground too much?
“No,” he says. “Not since I’ve been captain, in fact, not for the last four or five seasons. There were times in the past when I used to try for free kicks, but not nowadays.
“The game is too serious now. My aim is to win matches and I haven’t got time for acting.
“Unfortunately public opinion is against me, they think I’m an actor and 95 per cent of opposition players tell the umpires I’m conning them.
“This reacts against me because after a while the umpires start to take notice of them and this makes them frightened to give me a free kick.
“Anyway, let’s face it, most players – even stars such as Bob Skilton and Bill Goggin – play the ball in front of them and lurch forward a bit if they’re touched. I don’t believe this can be called over-acting.”
What about talking, we asked. Do you have much to say to the opposition and the umpires?
“Oh, I’ve quietened down a little,” he said. “But I must admit I’m a bit one-eyed and have a chat when I get annoyed.
“I only do it in an endeavour to help my side every way possible and I hope the umpires realise this. I find most of them have got a pretty good sense of humor.”
The fact that Roger is a self admitted one-eyed Tiger is not surprising.
He was born and bred in Richmond and put playing with the Tigers above all else in sport. Right since his schooldays he hasn’t participated in any sport other than football.
After playing junior football with Swinburne Technical College and Richmond Scouts he started at Richmond with the Fourths in 1956, then graduated through the Under 19’s and Reserves.
When he was 17 he played his first senior game late in the 1957 season. Maurie Fleming, who was then president said: “This boy will become one of our best players and represent Victoria one day”.
Roger proved the prediction right. He’s played four games for Victoria and (Richmond) team manager Graeme Richmond says: “Pound for pound he is the best player in my time at the club.”
Now 31, Roger, who is only 5 ft. 8 ½ in. and 11 ½ stone, has proved himself a strong, vigorous all-rounder and his must win at all costs attitude makes him an inspiring leader.
Despite his lack of inches, the song “I’ve Been Everywhere” could well have been written for him.
He’s played as a half-forward flanker, wingman, centre half-back, centreman, rover, half-back flank, full-forward, ruck-rover and back pocket – which means full-back is the only job he hasn’t been asked to do.
He feels lack of inches has been a handicap at times. “I’ve often wished I could have been taller, particularly when you just miss a mark by inches and in present day football the trend is for tall players who can outreach you.
“But apart from this it hasn’t worried me. Football is a man’s game. If you hand it out, you’ve got to expect to get a bit back.
“I’ve been down plenty of times, but I’ve only been knocked out twice in 15 years.”
Like many players Roger, a maintenance plumber with the Victorian Railways, is superstitious about success.
So much so that he had to change jumpers when he met the Queen and the Royal family at the MCG at the start of the 1970 season.
For four years he had worn the same old faded jumper with a battle scarred No. 3 on the back.
He wore it won the Tigers won the 1967 flag and he had it on again when he captained Richmond to the 1969 premiership.
And he wore it in the first half of the Royal match against Fitzroy, but then took it off at half-time and donned a new one for the benefit of the Queen!
You could say it was a right royal effort.
But when you look back on Roger’s 230 odd games you realise that the colourful Tiger captain is full of surprises.”