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Flashback to 1968 Tigers v Hawks

Tony Greenberg cranks up the Tiger time machine for a fascinating flashback to a controversial match Richmond played against Hawthorn at the MCG 44 years ago . .

It was the Queen’s Birthday, Monday, Round 8, 1968, and Richmond, the reigning premier, was having plenty of trouble shaking off a determined Hawks’ outfit.

Richmond had gone into the game with a 4-3 record for the season and was in fifth place on the ladder (just outside the top four as it was in those days), while Hawthorn was 11th (in the then 12-team competition), having won only one game, drawn in Round 2 with South Melbourne, and lost five.

The Tigers led the Hawks by just three points at half-time, but outscored their opponents five goals to one in the third term to take a seemingly match-winning 27-point lead into the final change.

Not to be denied, however, Hawthorn staged a stirring comeback and levelled the scores deep into time-on in the last quarter.

For the next couple of minutes, both sides tried desperately to break the deadlock, but the final siren signalled a draw - 11.14 (80) apiece - or so we thought . . .

I distinctly recall hurriedly leaving the ground with my “old man” and feeling pretty disappointed that Richmond had been unable to put away the then lowly Hawks.

You can imagine our surprise, and delight, (mirrored by other Yellow and Black barrackers on the day) when the post-match news broke over the radio that the goal umpires, after checking the scores as is their custom immediately after a game, had discovered a discrepancy . . . the Tigers had actually won by one point.

Here’s how ‘The Sun’ newspaper’s football scribe, Rex Pullen, described the sensational events which unfolded that Saturday afternoon in June ’68 . . .

“Thousands of people left the MCG yesterday thinking Richmond and Hawthorn had tied.

And players were back in their dressing rooms before they knew that Richmond had won by a point.

The big main scoreboard and a smaller one on the outer fence showed 11.15 - 81 each when the siren sounded.

But Hawthorn had been wrongly credited with a point by the operators of the main scoreboard.

This error was made after about 13 minutes of play in the last quarter, and was perpetuated until after the match.

Dozens of Hawthorn supporters complained to The Sun about the scoreboard mistake.

Goal umpires are the official League scorers.

After the game the two goal umpires conferred in the centre of the MCG.

They did not wave the “all clear” to the main board, but walked to the small scoreboard at the north end of the ground and altered the scores.

Operators in the main scoreboard then changed the scores to show Richmond the winner by a point.

This took about three minutes.

The sensational finish came when Hawthorn half-forward Rochford Devenish-Meares, who had come on as a reserve, slammed a 60-yard kick towards goal.

Hawthorn full-forward Peter Hudson, alone in the goal square, “shepherded” the ball through when he saw Devenish-Meares’ kick was straight and the scoreboard made the scores level at 11.15 - 81 each.

Play continued for another two minutes with neither side scoring and each team left the field satisfied the match had been tied.

The Hawks’ pleasure at their performance against last year’s premier turned to disappointment as the players went into the room.

Coach John Kennedy summed up the situation:  “I heard a terrific roar just as I went into the dressing room, and someone said that they’d changed the scores, and Richmond had won.

“I couldn’t believe it, but there it was on the scoreboard:  Richmond the winner by a point.”

Several Hawthorn players considered the mistake in the scores was “rubbing salt into them.”

They claimed that Richmond half-forward John Northey’s kick for goal in the last quarter, which was awarded a point, was out of bounds.”

The Sun’s leading football personality, former Collingwood champion, Lou Richards, said the “draw-that-wasn’t” was caused by a simple mistake by the scoreboard attendants:

“The mistake was made about 13 minutes into the last quarter when points came from Terry Gay, Geoff Angus, Peter Chilton and Peter Hudson to make Hawthorn’s score 9.13 - 67.

Then Chilton scored another point.  The board then went to 9.14 - 69, instead of 68.

When the scoreboard attendants apparently noticed the mistake, another point was added to the behinds, instead of a point being subtracted from the total.

This made the board read 9.15 - 69 for Hawthorn, instead of 9.14 - 68.”

Match scores

Richmond    2.4    5.7    10.11    11.15  (81)
Hawthorn    1.1    5.4    6.8    11.14  (80)

Goals - Richmond:  Guinane 3, Bartlett 2, Hart 2, Brown, Clay, Murphy, Northey.

Goals - Hawthorn:  Hudson 5, Crimmins 2, Gay 2, Devenish-Meares, Keddie.