Had the league’s old zoning system still been in place when Wayne Campbell was impressing talent scouts as a teenager playing for Bendigo league club Golden Square, he’d have ended up at Richmond’s arch rival Carlton.
Fortunately for the Tigers, zoning had just made way for drafting, and they snapped up the talented, young midfielder with their fifth pick (No. 29 overall) in the 1989 National Draft, behind Anthony Banik, Allister Scott, Nathan Bower and Robert Wren.
In Round 5 of the 1991 season, against Fitzroy at Princes Park, the then 18-year-old made his senior debut with the Richmond, under the coaching guidance of Club great Kevin Bartlett.
The boy from Golden Square, wearing the No. 46 Yellow and Black guernsey, was impressive first-up, picking up 20 possessions, as the Tigers got home by four goals.
Campbell put together a further 11 games in a solid debut season that year, averaging a respectable 17.4 disposals per match.
Then, in 1992, with triple Hawthorn premiership coach Allan Jeans having taken the coaching reins at Richmond, the young Tiger’s league career took off . . .
Given a permanent role in the midfield, Campbell carved a niche for himself as a ‘ball-magnet’, with a first-class, decision-making capacity.
He averaged 26.4 disposals throughout his second season of league football in 1992, with one performance, in particular, highlighting his quality. It came against Richmond’s arch-rival Carlton in a Round 15 clash at Waverley Park . . .
The second-year Tiger was given the daunting task that day of running with the Blues’ superstar midfielder Craig Bradley.
He rose to the challenge superbly, not only restricting Bradley to 22 disposals, but racking up what was to be an equal-career high 41 himself, including four goals, with the last of those being the one that clinched a major Tiger upset win by three points. Not surprisingly, he received his first Brownlow votes that day – the three for being best afield.
From there, this prolific possession-winning midfielder continued to thrive at the game’s highest level.
Although sustained team success eluded him, Campbell achieved a stack of individual honors throughout what was to be a long, distinguished league playing career.
Along the way, he provided the Club he had supported all his life, with immense value as a player.
To this day, he continues to be a valuable contributor for the Tigers, in a key off-field football role.
Wayne Campbell profile
Playing weight: 87kg
Recruited to Richmond from: Golden Square (Bendigo)
Playing position at Richmond: Midfield
Guernsey number at Richmond: No. 46, No. 9 and No. 17
Games at Richmond (1991-2005): 297
Goals at Richmond: 172
Honors at Richmond: Four-time Club Best and Fairest winner – 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2002; Club captain from 2001-2004; dual All-Australian representative – 1995 and 1999; Victorian State-of-Origin representative in 1998; Club Life Membership in 1998
Off-field contribution: Club assistant coach/leadership development manager/opposition analyst: 2009-2013