In a special holiday season series, richmondfc.com.au is asking Tiger fans to select the best player to have worn each of the most significant guernsey numbers in the Club’s history. To assist in your quest, we have profiled those players who have racked up a minimum of 50 games in the number. The game totals and years listed relate to those played while wearing the specific number, not total Richmond career numbers. Today, we focus on No. 5.
Vic Thorp – 226 games, 1912-1925
Champion full-back during Richmond’s early years in the league competition. The consummate defender, as he could nullify his opponent, as well as initiate attacking moves for the team. Was an excellent mark and magnificent exponent of the drop kick. Won the competition’s then equivalent of the Brownlow Medal – the ‘Champion of the Colony’ – on two occasions, the Tigers’ Best and Fairest twice, and was a key member of the Club’s 1920-1921 premiership sides. Named full-back in Richmond’s Team of the Century and elevated to ‘Immortal’ status at Tigerland in 2015.
Neville Crowe – 150 games, 1957-1967
Top-class ruckman, who was a model of consistency throughout his decade-long career with Richmond. Won the Club’s Best and Fairest in 1963, 1964 and 1966, was runner-up in 1965 and third in 1961. Captained the Tigers from 1963-1966 and was selected in the All-Australian side following the ’66 interstate carnival. Was a fine mark and his ruck technique was exemplary.
Bill Morris – 134 games, 1944-1951
Was described by Jack Dyer as a football freak, and the greatest ruckman he had seen. Renowned for pinpoint palming of the ball to the team’s rovers, strong marking and clever football brain. Won the Brownlow Medal in 1948, Richmond’s Best and Fairest in 1945, 1948 and 1950, and captained the Tigers from 1950-1951.
Brad Ottens – 129 games, 1998-2004
The No. 2 pick overall in the 1997 National Draft recovered from a total knee reconstruction during his debut season at Richmond to go on and gain All-Australian selection in 2001. Was mostly used by the Tigers to provide a strong marking target up forward, rather than as an outright ruckman, which he subsequently became at Geelong. Very mobile for his size, excellent overhead, and a reliable shot for goal.
Emmett Dunne – 109 games, 1977-1983
Versatile big man who played in the back pocket, forward pocket, ruck and at full-back throughout his senior career with Richmond. Was a valuable contributor in the Tigers’ 1980 premiership side at full-back.
Rex Hunt – 100 games, 1969-1974
Started at Richmond as a key forward, but ended up playing in defence. Won the Tigers’ leading goalkicker award in 1969 with 55 goals and was a member of their premiership side that year. Four years later, the strongly-built left-footer played an important role as a backman, when Richmond toppled Carlton in the 1973 Grand Final.
Troy Simmonds – 93 games, 2005-2010
Mobile big man who assumed the No. 1 ruck mantle at Richmond after arriving at the Club as part of a three-way swap, which also involved Aaron Fiora heading from the Tigers to St Kilda and Heath Black going from the Saints to Fremantle. Performed admirably during his time at Tigerland, finishing third in the 2006 Jack Dyer Medal.
Jamie Tape – 75 games, 1994-1997
Had a significant impact in just four seasons with Richmond after arriving from SA. Slotted straight into the Tigers’ defence, where he excelled due to his strong marking, efficient disposal, great courage, discipline, determination and poise. A very consistent performer who was rarely beaten.
Brandon Ellis – 67 games, 2013-2015
Richmond’s first pick (No. 15 overall) in the 2011 National Draft made an immediate impression with the Tigers, earning an AFL Rising Star nomination in his 2012 debut season of league football. He has maintained a consistent level of performance throughout, finishing runner-up in the 2014 Jack Dyer Medal. Hard-running wingman, who wins plenty of ball.
John Annear – 65 games, 1984-1986
Strongly-built, tough ruck-rover, who provided Richmond with a boost around the packs after crossing from Collingwood, where he’d spent three seasons. Had excellent stamina and regularly racked up big numbers possession-wise.