One of the many stories associated with Melbourne’s drought-breaking 2021 Grand Final triumph was key forward Ben Brown joining an exclusive group of players throughout AFL/VFL history to have won a premiership in his first year at a new club.
Brown joined the Demons from North Melbourne during last year’s trade period and less than 12 months later he’s a premiership player.
In recent times, Richmond has had four players accomplish this feat – Dion Prestia (from Gold Coast), Toby Nankervis (Sydney) and Josh Caddy (Geelong) in 2017 and Tom Lynch (Gold Coast) in 2019.
It was on this day 47 years ago, however, that the Tigers had two players who took an even quicker path to premiership glory at Punt Road after departing their previous league clubs.
Gareth Andrews and David Thorpe were pivotal members of Richmond’s flag-winning team against North Melbourne on September 28, 1974.
It is hard to believe today, but both Andrews and Thorpe weren’t even at Tigerland when the ’74 season started.
Andrews, a tall, strong-marking, dependable defender, was still with Geelong, where he had been since 1965. He’d played in the Cats’ 1967 Grand Final loss to Richmond and had provided them with solid service over the years.
In 1974, Andrews was working as a real estate agent in Richmond and getting to training at Geelong was becoming increasingly difficult for him. He sought a trade to the Tigers, which was initially knocked back.
After seven rounds of the season, however, Andrews was granted a clearance to play for Richmond in exchange for two-time Tiger premiership player Rex Hunt.
He made his debut with Richmond in Round 8 against North Melbourne at Arden Street. The Tigers won that match by 25 points with Andrews a valuable contributor in defence.
Seven days beforehand, he had played for Geelong in a loss to the Kangaroos at Kardinia Park.
Andrews went on to play an important role in Richmond’s premiership campaign that season as a back pocket minding the opposition’s resting ruckmen.
He was regarded as one of the Tigers’ top three players in their ’74 second semi-final victory over North Melbourne, finishing the match with 15 disposals and 10 marks. Two weeks later, he had 12 disposals and took seven marks in a sound Grand Final display against the Roos.
Incredibly, all-up during that 1974 season, Andrews played against North Melbourne five times!
Andrews had a brief, but successful 31-game stint with Richmond before retiring at the end of the 1975 season. He subsequently served as the Tigers’ CEO in the late 1970s.
David Thorpe, a classy centreman, had enjoyed a fine 151-game career at Footscray, winning two Best and Fairests and captaining the club in 1973.
But at the end of the ’73 season, Thorpe quit the Bulldogs and signalled his intention to join reigning premier Richmond.
Footscray stood firm and refused Thorpe’s request.
A protracted clearance wrangle ensued with Thorpe adamant he wouldn’t be returning to the Western Oval.
Eventually the Dogs relented, and Thorpe became a Tiger.
He made his debut for Richmond in Round 15, 1974 against Carlton at the MCG, gathering 21 disposals and kicking a goal.
Thorpe averaged 22.7 disposals per match in the nine games he played with the Tigers at the tail-end of the ’74 season.
In Richmond’s decisive 41-point Grand Final win against the Kangaroos, he had his season’s average 22 disposals and booted a goal.
Like Gareth Andrews, Thorpe’s time with the Tigers was short, but he had a significant impact in his 27 games.