Following the induction of Stan Judkins and Leo Merrett into Richmond’s Hall of Fame, at a special pre-game ceremony last Sunday, Tony Greenberg takes a look at their respective distinguished playing careers at Tigerland.
Stan Judkins was recruited to Richmond from VFA club Northcote and quickly became a senior regular in his 1928 debut season at 20 years of age.
The diminutive wingman starred in the Tigers’ 1928 semi-final victory over Carlton and three weeks later played in the team’s Grand Final loss to Collingwood.
Judkins missed Richmond’s 1929 finals campaign because of injury, however he started the 1930 season in brilliant touch.
With his lightning pace, fine ball-handling skills, slick disposal, and clever evasive ability, Judkins set the Tigers alight during the first half of that season.
As the year wore on, though, Judkins’ form dropped right away and, in the last month of the season, he found himself battling away in the seconds, trying to regain his place in the senior side, oblivious to the fact that he was about to create league football history.
The Brownlow Medal for the Fairest and Best player in the then VFL competition had been introduced in 1924 and the original voting system saw the field umpire award one vote per game to the player deemed best on ground.
After the final home-and-away round of the 1930 season, the votes were tallied and Judkins, who polled four votes, had tied with Collingwood’s Harold Collier and Footscray’s Albert Hopkins.
Two nights after the count, the VFL umpires’ board, which administered the award, recommended that no Brownlow Medal be given that year because there was no provision for a tied result.
A week later, however, Judkins was at home when his father showed him a newspaper article stating that he had won the Brownlow. Judkins subsequently was notified by the VFL to come and collect his award . . .
The VFL administration of the day had over-ruled the umpires’ board and decided, in the event of a Brownlow tie, the medal should be awarded to the player who had played the least number of senior games in that season.
Because Judkins had played 12 games, compared to Hopkins 15, and Collier 18, he became the 1930 Brownlow Medallist.
Judkins went on to figure prominently in the 1931 and 1932 Brownlow counts, finishing equal fifth in both years.
He formed part of a famous Richmond centreline, with Alan Geddes and Eric Zschech, and was a valuable member of the Tigers’ 1932 and 1934 premiership sides.
Stan Judkins profile
Born: October 4, 1907
Playing weight: 61kg
Recruited from: Northcote (VFA)
Guernsey number: No. 6
Debut: Round 7, 1928 v Geelong, Punt Road
Games (1928-36): 133
Honours: 1930 Brownlow Medallist, dual premiership player – 1932, 1934
Leo Merrett played for Victorian country club Serviceton in the Tatura Association as a 16-year-old rover and performed so well that Wimmera League club Nhill sought his services.
He subsequently played for Nhill in 1939 and was widely recognised as the competition’s best rover throughout that year.
Merrett’s fine form with Nhill attracted the attention of Richmond officials and he was subsequently brought to Melbourne by the Tigers on a six-match permit early in the 1940 season.
After a trial with Richmond’s seconds team against Geelong, he gained selection in the senior side for the Round 5 match v Fitzroy at Brunswick Street.
During Merrett’s debut season of VFL football, the Weekly Times newspaper had this to say about his attributes and future prospects . . .
“He is clever on the ground, kicks well, and has plenty of stamina. As he is only 21, he should go a long way in League football”.
Later that season, Tigers coach Percy Bentley moved Merrett from his customary roving role to a wing. It was to prove a masterstroke.
Merrett made 11 senior appearances all-up in 1940, including the Grand Final loss to Melbourne.
The following year, the highly-skilled, speedy Merrett starred on a wing, playing 18 games and polling 11 votes in the prestigious Brownlow Medal.
He went on to win the Club’s Best and Fairest award in 1942 and 1944, was runner-up in 1945 and 1946, and was a pivotal member of Richmond’s 1943 premiership side.
The Merrett football family tree is a mighty impressive one. Leo’s cousins Thorold Merrett and Roger Merrett were both dual premiership players at Collingwood and Essendon respectively. His great grandson, Bailey Smith, is a current-day young star with the Western Bulldogs. And he’s also related to top Bomber Zac Merrett.
Leo Merrett profile
Born: April 5, 1920
Playing weight: 73kg
Recruited from: Serviceton/Nhill
Guernsey number: No. 22
Debut: Round 5, 1940 v Fitzroy, Brunswick Street
Games (1940-49): 170
Honours: Premiership player 1943, dual Best and Fairest winner 1942, 1944