We complete the countdown of the top 20 Tiger trade pick-ups of the past 50 years with the player ranked No. 1 by our panel of experts - Ian Stewart.
It’s fair to say no trade in the history of league football has attracted more publicity than the one that saw then dual St Kilda Brownlow Medallist, Ian Stewart, join Richmond, in exchange for dual Tiger premiership player, Bill Barrot, at the end of 1970.
This was a swap that sent shock waves throughout the football world . . . two genuine superstars of the game, both brilliant centremen, who had achieved so much at their respective clubs, trading places.
For months, leading into the 1971 season, debate raged about which club would emerge the winner in the deal.
In the end, however, it was a no-brainer . . .
Barrot managed only two senior appearances for St Kilda and was subsequently cleared to Carlton before the midway mark of the ’71 season.
Stewart, by stark contrast, went on to have a huge impact at Tigerland, securing a third Brownlow Medal, in his debut season with the Club, a Jack Dyer Medal in the same year, and playing a pivotal role in Richmond’s 1973 premiership triumph.
To this day, Stewart is the only player in league football history to have achieved the feat of winning a Brownlow Medal, and being part of a premiership team, at two different clubs.
And, just for good measure, he also happens to be a member of both Richmond’s and St Kilda’s Team of the Century.
Initially, the Tigers’ decision to trade away a favorite son, ‘Bustling’ Billy Barrot, in return for Stewart, riled many Yellow and Black fans.
It didn’t, however, take long for Stewart to win them all over . . . his sublime skills making that a certainty.
Stewart was an outstanding kick with either foot, almost always hitting his target with pinpoint precision.
He also was an excellent mark for his size, had superb vision, balance, evasiveness, and enormous courage.
In short, he was one of the most complete players the game has ever seen.
Stewart’s display in Richmond’s 1973 Grand Final victory over Carlton, underlined his sheer class and bravery.
After copping a leg injury in the third quarter, Stewart was moved to a forward pocket, where, despite being severely restricted, he still managed to exert significant influence.
He kicked a couple of goals there, to finish with an equal-game high three goals, had 18 disposals, took five marks, and made the team’s best-players’ list on the most important football day of the year, as the Tigers gained sweet revenge for their shock loss to Carlton in the previous season’s Grand Final.
Richmond’s ‘Immortal’ coach, Tommy Hafey, had the pleasure of coaching Stewart throughout the champion centreman’s time at Tigerland. He was superbly succinct in his assessment of Stewart’s football talent . . .
“Ian Stewart was just a freak player. I don’t think I’ve ever seen courage displayed like what I saw with Ian Stewart so many times . . . he was an absolute superstar,” Hafey said.
Another Richmond ‘Immortal’, five-time premiership hero, Kevin Bartlett, in his book, “KB: A Life In Football”, also provided an apt snapshot of Ian Stewart’s playing ability . . .
“Ian was your purist’s centreman. He was a craftsman, who had lovely timing with his kicking, and I don’t think anyone his size has been a better mark,” Bartlett said.
“He was truly a legendary player, and I doubt you could name a better centreman to have ever played the game . . .
“He joined Richmond feeling he had a point to prove. He wanted to show St Kilda that he wasn’t washed up and he worked really hard to demonstrate that he wasn’t a poor trainer, which was the reputation he brought with him from Moorabbin.
“When he came to Richmond in 1971 I think it’s fair to say that he trained harder than he ever had.
"He was on a mission to re-establish himself as a star of the game . . .”
Mission accomplished - in wonderful style!
Ian Stewart profile
Playing weight: 78kg
Richmond trade history: Traded to the Tigers by St Kilda at the end of 1970 in exchange for Bill Barrot
Guernsey number at Richmond: No. 2
Debut at Richmond: Round 1, 1971 v Fitzroy, Junction Oval
Games at Richmond (1971-1975): 78
Goals at Richmond: 55
The full list:
20 - Ben Harrison
19 - Troy Simmonds
18 - Shaun Grigg
17 - Greg Stafford
16 - Greg Dear
15 - Ivan maric
14 - Peter Welsh
13 - Ricky McLean
12 - Michael Gale
11 - Nathan Brown
10 - Graeme Landy
9 - Leon Cameron
8 - Kane Johnson
7 - Mick Malthouse
6 - Wayne Walsh
5 - Robert McGhie
4 - Paul Broderick
3 - Paul Sproule
2 - Barry Rowlings
1 - Ian Stewart