Dale Weightman is to be Richmond’s next Homecoming Hero . . .
The Tigers will honor Weightman in the pre-game build-up at this Friday night’s big Round 12 clash with West Coast at the MCG.
Weightman, one of the greatest players in Tigerland history, will walk to the Punt Road end of the ground to receive the plaudits of the Yellow and Black faithful.
He will then proceed to kick a ceremonial goal, before signing the football and presenting it to a Richmond fan in the crowd.
Highlights of Weightman’s superb 274-game career with the Tigers also will be shown on the MCG’s screens.
Dale Weightman, a small, lightly-built rover, was recruited to Richmond from Mildura Imperials, which was in the heart of the Tigers’ then country zone, at the end of 1976.
He quickly worked his way through the ranks at the Club, playing in the under-19s premiership side in 1977, plus several reserve-grade matches that year.
Then, in the opening round of the 1978 season, Weightman made an impressive senior league debut against Carlton at the MCG, aged 18 years and 180 days.
Selected in the forward pocket, as roving back-up to the great Kevin Bartlett, he kicked three goals in Richmond’s crushing 77-point victory over its arch rival.
Three weeks on, Weightman was omitted from the senior side, but that’s when the resilience that was to be his trademark kicked in and he not only quickly fought his way back, but established himself as a key member of the Tigers’ line-up.
Two years later, when Richmond swept all before it to capture the 1980 premiership in stunning style, Weightman was starring as the team’s first rover, while Bartlett was kicking goals (and plenty of them) as a half-forward.
Weightman formed an excellent partnership with Richmond’s No. 1 ruckman Mark Lee, who also was a product of Mildura.
Despite Weightman’s small stature, he possessed enormous courage and plenty of aggression, which ensured he never took a backward step on the field of battle.
The man affectionately known as ‘The Flea’, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during his playing career, but tackled that setback as he did every other challenge he confronted – with single-minded determination.
Along with the diabetes, Weightman suffered numerous injuries, but nothing kept him down for long . . . he’d always bounce back to provide his customary inspiration for the Tigers’ team.
Weightman was a truly gifted player and, at the forefront of his impeccable skills set, was his exceptional handball ability.
‘The Flea’ consistently delivered the ball with perfect precision to teammates, via either hand, setting up numerous goals for the Tigers through his slick, quick, handball.
He had excellent vision and evasive skills, which enabled him to extricate himself out of the tightest of situations on-field and find the space to create opportunities for teammates.
Unfortunately, the strong sides that Weightman was a member of, early in his time at Tigerland, bore no resemblance to the struggling teams of his latter years there. Regardless, however, ‘The Flea’ never stopped flying the Yellow and Black flag.
After winning back-to-back Best and Fairests in 1986-87, he captained Richmond for five seasons from 1988-92 and set a wonderful example for a young, inexperienced group through his strong leadership.
Weightman further underlined his sheer football talent by representing Victoria 20 times in interstate matches and gaining All-Australian selection on three occasions.
Injuries eventually caught up with The Flea, and he bowed out of league football at the end of the 1993 season.
He subsequently was selected as second rover/forward pocket in Richmond’s Team of the Century.
Kevin Bartlett, who was first rover in that powerful line-up, was full of praise for Weightman in his book ‘KB: A Life In Football’ . . .
“Dale was an incredible player for his size,” Bartlett said.
“He had magic hands and his handballing was on a par with the great Barry Cable.
“He had tremendous ability to change direction; his running swerve as he ran with the ball was one of the great sights in football.
“Flea played 274 games and if it weren’t for diabetes, Achilles injuries and suspensions there is no doubt he would have played 300 games. He was very fiery and was reported 16 times.
“I admired him greatly because he was a target for opponents, who would try to take him out of the game and often he retaliated.
“He seemed born to be a rover but, strangely, given his height, he was recruited to Richmond as a centre half-forward.
“He probably should have kicked more goals for the Tigers, but he was so busy helping others to kick them.”
Dale Weightman Fact File
Playing weight: 69kg
Recruited to Richmond from: Mildura Imperials
Guernsey number at Richmond: No. 3 and No. 43
Games at Richmond (1978-1993): 274
Honors at Richmond: Member of 1980 premiership side, Club captain 1988-1992, member of the Tigers’ Team of the Century, Richmond Hall of Fame inductee, RFC life member, dual Jack Dyer Medallist 1986-1987, triple All-Australian representative 1985, 1986 and 1988