Geoff Raines is Richmond’s first Homecoming Hero for the 2019 season.
The Tigers are set to pay tribute to Raines in the lead-up to Thursday night’s blockbuster Round 2 clash with Collingwood at the MCG.
Raines, one of the classiest players to ever represent Richmond on the field of battle, will walk to the Punt Road end of the ground, where he’s bound to be warmly received by the Tiger Army.
He’ll kick a ceremonial goal, then sign the football and present it to a Richmond fan in the crowd.
Highlights of Raines’ fine career with the Tigers also will be shown on the MCG’s big screens.
Geoff Raines was recruited by Richmond from Victorian country club Swan Hill after originally being zoned to Footscray.
He started off at Tigerland in 1975, playing under 19s football, progressed to the reserves during that season, and subsequently made his senior league debut the following year – Round 4, 1976 v Collingwood at Victoria Park.
After four senior appearances all-up for the ’76 season, Raines established himself as a permanent, key member of Richmond’s main line-up in 1977.
Initially, Raines was effectively used by the Tigers on a wing, before moving into the centre, where he utilised his great balance, poise, pace, fierce determination, magnificent kicking skills and aerial ability to the team’s full advantage.
In 1978, Raines won the first of his three Jack Medals, averaging 23.6 disposals per game and generating significant drive for the Richmond side throughout the season in his centreman role.
Two years later, Raines was outstanding, as the Tigers dominated the competition, capturing their 10th league football premiership with a crushing 81-point victory over Collingwood in the 1980 Grand Final.
He averaged 24.6 disposals per match that season, won his second Jack Dyer Medal, was a strong contender for the Norm Smith Medal following a brilliant Grand Final performance (ultimately won by Kevin Bartlett for his dazzling seven-goal display against the Magpies), and was favourite going into the Brownlow Medal count (inexplicably, however, he failed to poll a vote!).
The sight of Raines bursting out the centre and drilling a beautifully-executed, long drop punt to star spearhead Michael Roach, deep inside Richmond’s forward-50 area, was a major highlight of the ’80 season for the Tiger Army.
Raines became a triple Jack Dyer Medallist in 1981 and continued to produce top-class football for the Tigers up until the end of the 1982 season, when he departed the Club to join Collingwood.
He then went on to have stints at Essendon and the fledgling Brisbane Bears, before announcing his retirement as a player.
In August 1999, when Richmond named its Team of the Century, Raines was selected on the interchange bench. He later became a Tigers’ Hall of Fame inductee.
His impact at Tigerland in seven seasons had been profound.
Richmond ‘Immortal’, Kevin Bartlett, in his book ‘KB: A Life In Football’, paid a huge tribute to Raines.
“Geoff Raines played his first half a dozen games as my second rover, so I saw him develop from a young player into a star,” Bartlett wrote.
“He was a beautiful kick and a wonderful mover with his low centre of gravity, but he also was as tough as an old tree.
“It’s not a quality that many would ascribe to him, but Geoff would crash into packs, crunch players and take heavy knocks.
“He earned the ‘Pretty Boy’ nickname because he was a good-looking player . . . but it was a misleading nickname in terms of his football.
“I witnessed him up close. He was hard at the ball and not frightened to mix it with anyone.
“Geoff was at Richmond for only seven seasons. In that time, he won three Best and Fairests, including one in a premiership year, in 1980 . . .
“He was one of the best players I ever played with.”
Geoff Raines profile
Playing weight: 78kg
Recruited by Richmond from: Swan Hill
Guernsey number at Richmond: No. 4 and No. 40
Debut at Richmond: Round 4, 1976 v Collingwood, Victoria Park
Games at Richmond (1976-1982): 134
Goals at Richmond: 55
Honours at Richmond: Member of 1980 premiership side, triple Jack Dyer Medallist (1978, 1980, 1981), Team of the Century member, Hall of Fame inductee, life member.