Wayne Walsh is Richmond’s next Coming Home Hero.
The Tigers are set to honor the 1973-74 premiership star during the pre-game build-up at this Friday night’s clash with Sydney at the MCG.
Walsh, who also played for the Swans, when they were South Melbourne, will walk to the Punt Road end of the ground, to be greeted with appropriate recognition from the Tiger Army.
He will then proceed to kick a ceremonial goal, before signing the football and handing it to a Richmond fan in the crowd.
Highlights of Walsh’s successful career with the Tigers also will be shown on the big screens at the ground.
Wayne Walsh started his league football career with Richmond’s under 19s in 1965, after being recruited from suburban club Murrumbeena.
A wingman/half-back, Walsh worked his way up through the ranks at Tigerland, making his senior debut in 1968.
But a lack of opportunities, due to so much talent in Richmond’s ranks at the time, saw Walsh cleared to rival league club South Melbourne at the end of the ’68 season.
At South, he quickly established himself as a top-line player, winning Victorian State selection twice during his time there.
Midway through the 1972 season, however, Walsh had a big falling-out with legendary South Melbourne coach, Norm Smith, and he was subsequently traded back to Richmond before the then June 30 clearance deadline.
Walsh provided the Tigers with good value for the rest of that ’72 season, playing 13 games for only one loss, which, unfortunately, was to Carlton in the Grand Final.
The following year, Walsh continued his strong form on a wing, where his pace, marking ability, long kicking, aggression, determination and toughness combined to make him a major asset for Richmond.
Walsh thrived on the pressure-cooker atmosphere of big-occasion matches. He was one of the Tigers’ best in the 1973 Grand Final, when they gained sweet revenge against the Blues, gathering 19 quality possessions and providing an abundance of dash for the team from his wing.
Then, in 1974, when Richmond made it back-to-back flags, overpowering North Melbourne in the Grand Final, Walsh further enhanced his reputation as a big-occasion performer, with another first-class performance, winning plenty of ball, and pumping it long into the forward line, in trademark style.
He retired from league football at the end of the 1978 season, having extracted the maximum out of his ability, and making a significant contribution to the Tigers’ glory days of the 70s, along the way.
Then, after a year away from Tigerland, he returned as coach of the under 19s, guiding them to a premiership in his first season in charge, in 1980.
About this time last year, Walsh was inducted into Richmond’s Hall of Fame.
Five-time Tiger premiership hero and Club ‘Immortal’, Kevin Bartlett, in his book “KB: A Life In Football”, selected Walsh on the interchange bench in his best line-up of Richmond players over the course of his 19-season league career.
“Wayne was a big-game player, who had a thumping kick, and he starred in the 1973 and ’74 finals series as a wingman. He was cheeky and very confident. He’d have a go at opponents using his quick wit,” Bartlett wrote.
Wayne Walsh fact file
Playing weight: 76kg
Recruited to Richmond from: Murrumbeena
Guernsey numbers at Richmond: No. 41, No. 7, No. 31
Debut for Richmond: Round 2, 1968 v Carlton, MCG
Games for Richmond (1968, 1972-75 and 1977-78): 88
Goals for Richmond: 30
Honours at Richmond: Dual premiership player 1973, 1974; RFC Hall of Fame inductee; Club Life Member