In the wake of Richmond’s glorious 2019 premiership triumph, Tony Greenberg delves deep to provide Yellow and Black barrackers with some tasty Tiger tidbits...
This year, for only the second time in AFL/VFL history, dating all the way back to 1897, both teams that finished in the top-two positions on the ladder at the completion of the home-and-away rounds did not compete in the Grand Final.
Geelong, first, and Brisbane, second, were the ladder leaders after Round 23 of the 2019 season, but it ended up being Richmond, third and Greater Western Sydney, sixth, who met in the premiership-decider.
The Tigers were involved the only other occasion this has happened, back in 1980, when they played Collingwood in the Grand Final.
Richmond had finished third at the end of the home-and-away rounds that season, while the Magpies filled fifth place in the then final-five competition. Like this year, it was Geelong atop the ladder, with Carlton in second spot.
And the 1980 Grand Final was remarkably similar to what occurred at the MCG last Saturday week.
Collingwood had fought extremely hard to make it through to that ‘one day in September’ of 1980, winning three finals, including a thrilling four-point victory over Geelong in the preliminary final.
On Grand Final day, however, the Pies were totally outclassed and overpowered by a fresher, powerful Tigers’ team.
Richmond’s 81-point win against Collingwood was its biggest in a Grand Final – until this year’s 89-point demolition of the Giants.
The Tigers’ 2019 premiership triumph also mirrored their grand achievement 50 years ago, in 1969.
That season, as with this one, they overcame a major mid-year slump and stormed home to take the flag.
After 12 home-and-away rounds of the ’69 season, Richmond had slumped to sixth place on the ladder in the then 12-team competition, 10 points (two and a half games) out of the top four, following five losses in its previous six matches.
But, like the Tigers of 2019, Tommy Hafey’s boys proceeded to reel off 10 wins from their last 11 games of the season to capture the 1969 premiership in superb style.
Richmond’s outstanding 12-game winning streak, which culminated in the 2019 Grand Final smashing of Greater Western Sydney, is the equal best in the Club’s AFL/VFL history.
But the other time the Tigers recorded 12 wins on-the-trot, they were across two seasons – from Round 11, 1932 to Round 2, 1933.
The most consecutive wins overall in Richmond’s entire history (since 1885) is 15, from Round 3, 1903 to Round 17, 1903 in the VFA competition.
Richmond also racked up 14 victories in-a-row from Round 12, 1905 to Round 4, 1906.
The legend of the No. 4 Richmond guernsey grew even further in the 2019 Grand Final, Tigers superstar Dustin Martin yet again wearing it with great distinction.
Martin made it two Norm Smith Medals from two Grand Final appearances with his dominant display against the Giants in the 2019 premiership-decider.
The No. 4 is the only guernsey number to have been worn in all of Richmond’s 12 AFL/VFL premierships.
Here is the full list of the Tigers’ No. 4 premiership players . . .
1920 – Hughie James
1921 – Hughie James
1932 – Maurie Sheahan
1934 – Maurie Sheahan
1943 – Ray Steele
1967 – Royce Hart
1969 – Royce Hart
1973 – Royce Hart
1974 – Royce Hart
1980 – Geoff Raines
2017 – Dustin Martin
2019 – Dustin Martin
Three new numbers have attained premiership status at Richmond following the glorious 2019 Grand Final victory – Ivan Soldo’s No. 47, Liam Baker’s No. 48 and Marlion Pickett’s No. 50.
It’s only the second time in Tigerland history that a premiership side has contained three players wearing guernsey numbers above 40.
The 1969 flag-winning Tigers’ team had Billy Brown, No. 40, Graeme Bond, No. 44 and Ian Owen, No. 52.
The long-standing, strong connection between Richmond and WAFL club South Fremantle was taken to an even higher level in the 2019 Grand Final, courtesy of the Tigers’ classy, mature-age recruit Marlion Pickett and talented 20-year-old Shai Bolton.
Richmond secured the services of Pickett from South Fremantle via the AFL’s reintroduced mid-season draft, and he produced a fantastic, fairytale performance in his senior debut with the Tigers in their crushing Grand Final victory over Greater Western Sydney.
Livewire forward Bolton was drafted to the Tigers with selection 29 of the 2016 AFL Draft and played 19 senior games in 2019.
Three other players recruited by Richmond from South Fremantle went on to be Tiger premiership players – Norm McIntosh 1921, Colin Beard 1969 and Bruce Monteath 1980 (captain).
Another star who played at South Fremantle before joining Richmond – Maurice Rioli – won the Norm Smith Medal for his brilliant exhibition in the Tigers’ 1982 Grand Final loss to Carlton.
Beating Geelong in the finals is the common denominator when it comes to Richmond premiership success.
In each season that the Tigers have defeated the Cats during September, they have been premiers.
Here’s the tale of the Tigers’ road to premiership glory through Geelong . . .
1921: Won the semi-final at the MCG by 61 points.
1934: Won the semi-final at the MCG by 84 points.
1967: Won the Grand Final at the MCG by nine points.
1969: Won the first semi-final at the MCG by 118 points.
1980: Won the second semi-final at Waverley Park by 24 points.
2017: Won the qualifying final at the MCG by 51 points.
2019: Won the preliminary final at the MCG by 19 points.
Here’s another interesting Yellow and Black 2019 premiership omen . . .
Maureen Hafey presented the premiership cup to Richmond captain Trent Cotchin and coach Damien Hardwick exactly 44 years to the day since her late husband Tommy Hafey coached the Tigers to his fourth and final Grand Final win (v North Melbourne in 1974).
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