Barry Richardson is Richmond’s next Coming Home Hero.
The Tigers are set to honor the triple premiership star during the pre-game build-up at this Saturday’s MCG clash with Brisbane.
Richardson will walk to the Punt Road end of the ground, where he’ll be greeted with fitting acknowledgment 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 Richardson’s successful career with the Tigers also will be shown on the ground’s big screens.
Barry Richardson was recruited to Richmond in 1965 from St Pat’s College, Ballarat.
He made his senior league debut up forward with the Tigers in the opening round of the ’65 season, against Melbourne at the MCG, and played the next week against Collingwood, but a serious knee injury subsequently sidelined him for the rest of the year.
Richardson returned in 1966, but managed only three senior appearances, although he was a member of the Club’s reserve-grade premiership side that year.
The following season, Richardson started to cement his place in the Tigers’ line-up as a tall (191cm) half-forward.
In Richmond’s drought-breaking 1967 Grand Final triumph over Geelong, Richardson was one of the team’s best in his half-forward role, finishing with 15 kicks, one handball, five marks and a goal.
By the time the 1968 season rolled around, ‘Bones’, as he was affectionately known during his league playing days, had a completely different on-field role.
With the retirement of 1967 premiership captain and full-back Fred Swift, the Tigers decided Richardson would be an ideal replacement in the key defensive post, given his all-round skills set. It also meant he could run in a straight line, rather than twisting and turning, which would alleviate some of the pressure on the knee that he’d damaged.
Richardson would go on to become one of the premier full-backs of the competition.
To underline just how well Richardson adapted to the key defensive post, during the 1969 season he became the first player (and one of just two full-backs overall) to hold Hawthorn’s champion full-forward, Peter Hudson, goalless during a league match. Given the fact Hudson averaged a competition all-time high of 5.64 goals per match throughout his 129-game league career, that was some feat!
The Tigers struggled for consistency during the ‘69 season, until the final few home-and-away rounds, when they hit their straps and stormed into the finals.
With Richardson rock-solid on the all-important last line of defence, Richmond restricted Geelong to just seven goals in the first semi-final, en-route to a thumping 118-point victory. Two weeks later, in the preliminary final, Collingwood could muster only 10 goals, with the Tigers cruising to a 26-point win.
On Grand Final day of the ’69 season, Richardson had the huge assignment of curtailing the Blues’ superstar Alex Jesaulenko, who had been in brilliant form at full-forward.
Richardson played his part to perfection, restricting the dangerous Jesaulenko to just one goal in Carlton’s total of eight, as the Tigers powered away to a 25-point win in the premiership-decider.
Richmond missed the finals the following season and, by the time it returned to September action in 1971, Richardson found himself forward again.
Midway through that ’71 season, he’d been switched from full-back to full-forward by legendary Tiger coach Tommy Hafey, in a bid to add some much-needed bite to the team’s attack.
Richardson proceeded to kick 48 goals in the last 12 goals of the season, including five in the Tigers’ losing preliminary final against St Kilda at the MCG.
At the end of 1971, Richmond secured the services of powerful, tough full-forward Ricky McLean from Carlton. That led to yet another on-field move in Barry Richardson’s playing career.
He reverted to the half-forward flank, where he’d played in the ’67 premiership side, and performed admirably, finishing with 49 goals for the season, including 11 in the 1972 finals series, three of them coming in the shock Grand Final loss to Carlton.
Then, in the 1973 opening round, against Essendon at Windy Hill, Richardson suffered another major knee injury that wiped him out for the season and very nearly ended his playing career.
But, after missing Richmond’s ’73 premiership success against Carlton, Bones decided he still had the necessary fire in the belly to give it another shot.
He made his senior league comeback in the second last home-and-away round of the 1974 season against South Melbourne, kicking three goals from full-forward, followed by four the following week against Footscray.
Although he was still quite ‘proppy’ on the knee, Richardson proceeded to have a significant impact in Richmond’s ’74 finals campaign.
He kicked five goals out of the Tigers’ total of 10 in a low-scoring, second semi -final win against North Melbourne at Waverley Park.
Two weeks later, against North in the Grand Final, Bones booted another bag of five goals – four of them in the final quarter – as Richmond romped home by 41 points to claim its ninth league premiership.
The 1974 Grand Final was to be Richardson’s last game of league football, so he bowed out in the best way imaginable.
Over a 125-game career at the game’s highest level, he had a highly-impressive winning strike-rate of just over 70%, and he kicked 134 goals.
Richardson subsequently replaced Tommy Hafey as Richmond’s senior coach, and later had a stint as the Club’s president.
He is a Richmond Hall of Fame inductee, a life member, and renowned as one of the most versatile, valuable servants in Tigerland’s history.
Barry Richardson fact file
Playing weight: 82.5kg
Recruited to Richmond from: St Pat’s Ballarat
Guernsey number at Richmond: No. 17
Senior debut at Richmond: Round 1, 1965 v Melbourne, MCG
Playing position: Full-forward/full-back/half-forward/ruck-rover
Games at Richmond (1965-1974): 125
Honors at Richmond: Triple premiership player (1967, 1969, 1974); Tigers’ Hall of Fame inductee; RFC life member
Other roles at Richmond: Senior coach in 1977-1978; reserves coach in 1976; president in 1985