Trevor Craddock, the universally admired Richmond Board Member from 1977-1981, who represented the club as a VFL Director, and was the founder of the Little League, has died.

Mr Craddock, a passionate Tiger supporter, died on February 1, 2024 at the age of 100.

As Chief Manager of Marketing for the State Savings Bank (SSB), it was Craddock’s 1967 proposal to create a junior footy competition that set the wheels in motion to what everyone would know as the SSB Little League.

Ten years later he was brought onto the Richmond Football Club board by Graeme Richmond, where his service included the club’s 1980 premiership season, and representing the club as a VFL director from 1979 -1981.

From the 1980 RFC Annual Report

In an interview two weeks before his passing, with Richmond Historian Rhett Bartlett, Craddock recalled as a youngster living in Box Hill where “you either barracked for Richmond or Hawthorn and I went for Richmond because I liked the ‘Tigers’ idea. I’ve got a 4ft Tiger on my desk in my room here as we speak.”

With his position at the bank, and his love for the Tigers, he was able to bring to the attention of the Richmond committee the skills of employees Neville Crowe and Bill Brown who were playing for State Savings Bank footy team in the VAFA.

The club’s Minute Book from August 13 1956 records committeeman and the head of recruiting operations Hector Lingwood-Smith attending the State Savings Bank v Old Paradians match.

Minute Book reads: Recruiting: Mr Lingwood-Smith reported on State Savings Bank v Old Paradians match

Correlating that to the newspaper archive reveals that the game he watched was the July 27 match where a 19-year-old Neville Crowe played and kicked a goal.

July 28 1956 The Age, page 16.

Historically, this pinpoints the exact moment that the club first saw Crowe play. He would become a star recruit the next year at Tigerland and go on to 150 games, captain, and three Best and Fairests.

Speaking from his home in NSW, Billy Brown, who would play 130 games including the 1967 and 1969 premierships, remembered working for Craddock at the SSB.

“He was involved in promotions and stuff like that, and he used to use me and Crowey as presenters, like in the old days when they used to have money boxes for the school kids. We seemed to be the ones he liked choosing because we were known.”

Brown had played for the B Grade Bank side and made the team for the Victorian Amateurs in a match in Tasmania in 1962. Craddock made sure Richmond had their eyes on the skilful wingman.

For the Little League concept, Craddock transferred bank employee Graham Donaldson, (the former Carlton footballer who was then coaching Morwell), to his Marketing Department and gave him the assignment to run the show.

In his State Savings Bank memoir, employee Neil Williams wrote that the Little League “was an original idea proposed by Trevor Craddock, a massive Tiger fan himself, who realised it needed a ‘football hero’ to make it happen.”

May 13 1967 Football Record extract

“Trevor then assigned me as Donno’s right hand man on the project and we became a team and spent many hours together devising the concept and working out how the whole thing could function. We had a special room downstairs on the Mezzanine floor which became our headquarters. Finally, after many vicissitudes the Little League kicked off with the first round of the 1967 season. It was known as the ‘State Bank of Victoria Little League’ and it took off like wildfire.”

The State Savings Bank supplied all the guernseys, football and equipment to the initial nine districts. Matches were two halves of seven minutes each on a playing area around 90 x 40 yards.

A brochure highlighting some SSB employees in the VFL

Born on September 17 1923, Craddock enlisted in World War II as an 18-year-old where he served with the 52nd Infantry Battalion and then as a Warrant Officer with the RAAF.

Admired by all at the State Savings Bank, Craddock was Managing Editor of the staff magazine Statesman and, as seen below, created the Migrants Promotions Section where his department arranged some 4,500 housing loans and 8,000 personal loans for new arrivals to Victoria between 1968 and 1978.

As well, they provided interpreter and translation services for migrants, and assisted them with employment and social welfare needs.

Craddock, pictured second from the right.

He also organised sponsorship of the Channel 9 News Chopper, that doubled as beach patrols and transportation to opening of bank branches.

A long-standing member of The Carbine Club, it was Craddock’s idea for their Guests of Honor to participate in Q+A sessions with its members, rather than read from a prepared speech.

It culminated in the ultimate guest in 1981 – the Prince of Wales (now King of England), Charles, at Leonda by the Yarra.

Craddock, in his own words, had “gilded the lily” to the Department of Protocol in detailing the organisation’s then low-profile.

“Prince Charles agreed to the idea of questions in club but wanted a list in advance. His Highness adhered to this request but on the day there was not time to get through them all,” he wrote for the Carbine newsletter.

“He was not selective and also not pleased that he had to leave us for elsewhere. The frankness with which he spoke impressed everyone.

"The only downside was that one of the members’ guests – we believed to be a politician – spoke to a reporter. As early as breakfast time next morning the Prince’s aide was on the phone to me. I apologised sincerely, saying truthfully that this was the first time it had happened in our twenty years.”