Richmond is mourning the passing of Club great Neville Crowe, who passed away this morning following a long illness, aged 79.
Crowe was a wonderful, long-time servant of the Tigers in a variety of roles, including star player, specialist coach, president, staff member and Club vice-patron.
Club President, Peggy O'Neal, paid tribute to Crowe for his long-spanning passion and commitment to the Richmond Football Club.
“The Club extends its sincere condolences to Neville’s wife Valy, his children, extended family and friends," O'Neal said.
“Neville was a giant of the Richmond Football Club. He was a Jack Dyer Medallist, Life Member, Hall of Fame Member and former President.
“His commitment to the Save Our Skins campaign epitomised his love of this football club and we are both honoured and indebted that he is such an important part of our history.”
Crowe's Tigerland pilgrimage started in 1957, when he was invited down to Punt Road, from the State Savings Bank amateur team, to join in pre-season training.
He went on to make his senior debut with Richmond during the ’57 season, and subsequently became one of the finest players in the Club’s proud history.
In a league career spanning 11 seasons, from 1957-67, Crowe played 151 games and kicked 84 goals.
He won Richmond’s Best and Fairest award three times (in 1963, 1964 and 1966) and was runner-up twice.
During the Tigers’ lean years of the early-mid 1960s, Crowe stood out like a beacon with his outstanding ruckwork, courage, and inspirational leadership qualities.
Crowe captained Richmond from 1963-66, and represented Victoria on nine occasions in State football.
His excellent form for Victoria in the 1966 interstate carnival, held in Hobart, earned him All-Australian selection.
Sadly, Crowe’s final game of league football was to be the second semi-final of 1967 . . .
He was reported, and subsequently received a four-match suspension, for striking Carlton ruckman John Nicholls.
That meant Crowe was ineligible to play in what turned out to be Richmond’s drought-breaking premiership win against Geelong a couple of weeks later.
Crowe, however, was one of the first out on the field to congratulate coach, Tommy Hafey, and his Tiger teammates, when the final siren sounded.
Video footage (not permissible as evidence in Tribunal hearings at the time) revealed Crowe’s open-handed swipe at Nicholls had missed by a fair margin – a fact ‘Big Nick’ admitted years later, when he confessed he’d staged for a free kick.
At the end of the ’67 season, Crowe was selected in Harry Beitzel’s inaugural ‘Galahs’ team, to represent Australia against Ireland in a Gaelic football series, but he missed the tour because of injury.
Crowe returned to Richmond in 1980 – the year the Tigers scored a thumping Grand Final victory over Collingwood.
Crowe had been asked by his former teammate, and then senior Richmond coach Tony Jewell, if he would be interested in assisting with some specialist ruck coaching.
Given his passion for the Tigers, Crowe happily agreed, and he ended up making a valuable contribution to that glorious 1980 premiership triumph.
Although ‘Crowey’ spent only the one season as Richmond’s ruck coach, he thoroughly enjoyed his involvement, helping out the likes of Tiger big men Mark Lee, Emmett Dunne and David Cloke.
Less than seven years later, Neville Crowe was back at Tigerland again, accepting the position of president, with the Club struggling at the bottom of the ladder and in deep financial strife.
Crowe threw himself into the presidency with trademark enthusiasm, energy, positivity and humor.
He restored confidence, pride and stability to the Club at all levels following several turbulent years of in-fighting and unrest.
But, in August 1990, it was an uncharacteristically solemn Crowe, who announced to the football world that Richmond needed to raise $1 million by October 31 that year, or it would be forced to fold.
Notwithstanding the dire situation, the Tigers couldn’t have had a better person at the helm to lead them out of the financial mire.
With Richmond fighting for its life, Neville Crowe became the major architect and driving force of the successful Save Our Skins campaign.
Crowe galvanised the Yellow and Black forces and played a key role in the creation of the highly- effective ‘Endangered Species’ TV promotion.
Images of ‘Crowey’ rattling tins and counting money as it poured in to the Club will live forever in the memories of the Tiger faithful . . .
By the time the October 31 deadline rolled around, Richmond had, in fact, exceeded its $1 million target by more than $30,000.
The result was acclaimed as something of a minor miracle, and Neville Crowe’s part in it all had been nothing short of outstanding.
Crowe was to continue as Richmond’s president until August 1993, when he stood down from the role to concentrate on his business career.
A decade later, Crowe was back with his beloved Tigers, working as a full-time member of the Club’s sales/marketing department.
He also managed Richmond’s ‘Captains’ Club’ coterie group, was a highly-popular MC at numerous coterie functions, a foundation member and inaugural committee member of the Tommy Hafey Club, and later was heavily involved in establishing the Tigers’ bequest program.
Crowey was an inaugural inductee into Richmond’s Hall of Fame and served with distinction as Vice Patron of the Club.
His passion for the Tigers, over such a long period of time, was boundless.
And, as long as there is a Richmond Football Club, Neville Crowe will always be fondly remembered as the man who helped keep it alive.