In late 1970, the league football world was rocked when Richmond swapped dual premiership hero Bill Barrot to St Kilda for dual Brownlow Medallist Ian Stewart.
These were two genuine superstars of the game, both brilliant centreman, who had achieved so much at their respective clubs, trading places amid enormous publicity.
For months, leading into the 1971 season, debate raged as to which club would be the winner in the big trade deal.
In the end, however, it was a no-brainer . . .
Barrot managed just two senior appearances for the Saints before being cleared to Carlton midway through that ’71 season.
Stewart, on the other hand, would go on to have a profound impact in his time at Tigerland.
From the opening round of the 1971 season, when he was best-on-ground in a big Richmond win against Fitzroy at the Junction Oval, Stewart provided his new club with a tremendous boost.
He combined superbly with another top-class Tasmanian Tiger in Royce Hart, to help lift the Tigers back into the finals, after they had missed out on the September action in 1970.
On the Monday night following the final home-and-away round of the ’71 season, Ian Stewart carved his name into league football immortality, joining Haydn Bunton, Dick Reynolds and Bob Skilton as a triple Brownlow Medallist, taking out the game’s most prestigious individual award by three votes.
For good measure, Stewart captured the Jack Dyer Medal, as Richmond’s Best and Fairest winner, in his debut season with the Club.
The repertoire of sublime skills that Stewart had displayed throughout his career at St Kilda, was now delighting the Tiger Army . . . exquisite kicking with either foot, magnificent marking, outstanding vision, balance and evasiveness, along with bucketloads of inspirational courage.
Stewart’s display in Richmond’s 1973 Grand Final triumph over Carlton, underlined his sheer class and bravery.
After suffering a leg injury in the third quarter, Stewart was moved to a forward pocket, where, despite being severely restricted, he still managed to exert considerable 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 day on the football calendar, as the Tigers savored sweet revenge against their arch rivals.
Ian Stewart profile
Playing weight: 81kg
Recruited to Richmond from: St Kilda
Playing position: Centre
Guernsey number at Richmond: No. 2
Games at Richmond (1971-1975): 78
Goals at Richmond: 55
Honors at Richmond: Member of 1973 premiership team; Brownlow Medal winner in 1971; Club Best and Fairest winner in 1971; Tigers’ Team of the Century member; Club Life Membership in 1971