To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Tigers’ 1980 premiership, Richmond Media is transporting Yellow and Black barrackers back in time throughout 2020 to follow the Punt Road path to that fantastic flag triumph. Today, we take a look at ‘The Age’ football writer Geoff Slattery’s review of Richmond’s Round 19 match of the ’80 season against Carlton at Princes Park, which took place on Saturday, August 9 before a crowd of 30,951.
“There was a general feeling around Carlton that it was the club’s finest moment for the season. Certainly, the waves of excitement which engulfed Princes Park immediately after Saturday’s final siren suggested the rank and file was again dreaming of premierships, rather than blood.
Results from the other games were filtering through, and when news arrive that South had beaten North, the Carlton end of the ground erupted with joy. It was just another example of the intensity of emotion generated by Melbourne football.
It was such a joyous occasion, only the Richmond fans, caught among the mass, could fail to be moved. People were leaping about laughing, cheering. The drunks were swaying from side to side in time with the Carlton song, booming over the public address, and abetted by many thousands of voices.
It was an excitement normally reserved for the last of the finals matches. But as far as Carlton’s ultimate chance was concerned, this match against leader Richmond was as important as a final. The club needed it to restore character, pride and reputation.
And they did it in the best possible fashion, winning everywhere. Carlton, as though by divine right, was now back in the top three, and in with a chance.
Peter Jones, the most discussed coach in the game, could not have been happier. Seated beneath one of those amazing signs which seem to have proliferated at Carlton in the past few months – this one read “A thing done once is better than something spoken about a thousand times” – riveting material – Jones was at peace with the world and apparently secure in the hot seat for at least another 12 months.
Stories had run rife through the week that the Carlton coach was living on borrowed time. Any end of season worse than third would see him given the heave-ho. It was hardly an exciting pre-match prospect for Jones, in this most exacting of professions, one failure means you are tarred for life. You’ve got to be lucky, or durable or Bill Stephen to get a second chance.
Jones knew all this. And he does enjoy coaching. But in reply to a question on the pressure he had faced during the week, he just lifted those ample eyebrows, wiggled his equally bushy moustache, and started to say something. Nothing came forth.
“How did he feel now it was over?”, someone asked. This was easier. Jones’s answer was one word, an expressive word, which rarely makes these columns. It did the job. Everyone knew how relieved he was.
But Jones said the win, and more importantly, the dramatic improvement in Carlton’s form and teamwork, was really nothing to do with him. The Carlton players had lifted themselves from the depths of that North Melbourne fiasco of 26 July, back to the glory of Saturday. “The players were furious with themselves for letting that one go. And so was I.”
But now, all that is forgotten. The script is set for a sortie at premiership number two. Says Jones, in the manner of a weather-beaten horse-trainer: “There is still plenty of improvement in them.”
If there is, and such assessments usually flow from the emotion of such a victory, then Richmond, for one, has a bleak future. The scoreline says Carlton won it in the third quarter, when it booted five goals in a low-scoring game – three of them through the direct or indirect contribution of the returned-to-form Mark Maclure. But really, it was nothing to do with moments or quarters.
Carlton was a winner all day. It just took until the third quarter to get the results on the board. The Blues’ only flat spot was in the last line of attack, not just at full forward. They lack a desperate group ready to retain possession when the niceties have been dispensed with. Someone like Bruce Doull, who did that job so well after half time. But the question there, is whether the Blues can do without Doull in defence.
It was not really Richmond’s day. But to their credit, the Tigers fought the game out right to the line. And for 15 minutes in that last quarter, it looked as though they might surprise us all. They might still have done, if Dale Weightman had goaled from spitting distance. Once that was missed, it was over.
The Tigers might draw some consolation from the fact they were beaten by under four goals, with none of the following making more than a scratch on the match: David Cloke, Michael Roach, Kevin Bartlett, Geoff Raines, Jim Jess, Bryan Wood, and Bruce Monteath. A handy selection of outs.
Richmond coach Tony Jewell had no doubts which was the better side. “We were outplayed,” he said. “I am bitterly disappointed. We had a lot of players who didn’t perform, and that is very worrying, considering the seriousness of the game.”
He said, in opening: “They tell me God smiled on us.” God, in the form of St Kilda, had beaten Geelong, and allowed Richmond to stay on top.”
A few years back, a “Time” cover story assured us that “God is alive and well and living in Mexico.” In football terms, “Carlton is alive and well and back in town.”
Richmond 3.3 5.6 7.7 10.10 (70)
Carlton 2.1 4.6 9.11 12.19 (91)
Goals – Richmond: Wiley 3, Cloke 2, Weightman, Roach, Monteath, Bottams, Smith.
Best – Richmond: Keane, Smith, Wiley, Lee.
Goals – Carlton: Wells 3, Maclure 3, Catoggio, Sheldon, Johnston, Doull, Maylin, Marcou.
Best – Carlton: Wells, Maclure, Harmes, Perovic, Southby, Maylin, English.