Ricky McLean, the son of dual Carlton premiership player of the 1930s-40s, Rod McLean, had been starved of senior action in his time with the Blues, having made just 19 appearances in six seasons, mainly due to injuries and suspensions.
He was a powerfully-built, left-foot full-forward, who thrived on the physical aspects of the game, but that frequently led to problems with umpires and, subsequently, the tribunal.
With the Carlton side of the early 1970s boasting forwards of the calibre of Alex Jesaulenko, Robert Walls, David McKay and Syd Jackson, McLean decided to try his luck elsewhere.
On this day 50 years ago (December 27, 1971), The Age newspaper reported:
“Richmond is hoping former Carlton forward Ricky McLean will measure up as its full-forward next season.
McLean, 24, has been cleared to Richmond after a chequered career with the Blues.
It is believed the Tigers paid about $2000 for McLean, who has played 21 senior games for Carlton since 1965.
If McLean is a successful full-forward, Barry Richardson could be returned to the back line – as a back pocket player.”
Working class Richmond Football Club and rugged Ricky McLean were a perfect match.
McLean arrived at Punt Road in 1972 and quickly formed a fearsome, double-pronged Tiger attack with fellow strongman Neil Balme.
As well as his trademark toughness, McLean possessed plenty of playing ability.
He was Richmond’s equal leading goalkicker, with 55 goals (the same as Neil Balme), in his debut season at the Club and was a member of the Tiger Grand Final team that year, that lost to his old side Carlton in a goal frenzy (28.9 to 22.18).
Unfortunately, McLean tore his hamstring during the first half of the ’72 GF and spent the entire second half on the bench.
McLean ended up playing 39 senior games with Richmond from 1972-76 (with one year in between spent at Tasmanian club Burnie) and kicked 103 goals.
He kicked four goals or more 13 times in his 39 games for the Tigers with a best return of eight against St Kilda in Round 17, 1972 at the MCG.
As for Barry Richardson, well he didn’t return to Richmond’s defence, despite McLean’s success at full-forward.
Richardson remained in the Tigers’ forward line and acquitted himself extremely well, finishing with 47 goals for the 1972 season.