Throughout 2020, Richmond Media has celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Tigers’ 1980 premiership by transporting Yellow and Black barrackers back in time to follow the Punt Road path to that fantastic flag feat. We conclude the celebrations today with several articles from ‘The Sun’ and ‘The Age’ newspapers in the aftermath of Richmond’s tremendous triumph. First-up, it’s Neil Kearney’s piece in The Sun on 1980 Norm Smith Medallist Kevin Bartlett.
Neil Kearney, The Sun
“The little man who only eight months ago felt unwanted at Tigerland will be remembered as the hero of Richmond’s 1980 premiership.
Kevin Bartlett’s seven goals on Saturday equalled the record for a grand final and, added to the 14 he kicked in Richmond’s two previous finals, equalled the record total of 21 for a finals series.
The unlikely-looking football wizard who won the Norm Smith medal for man of the match was still full of running at the end of his 339th game.
His goal at the 26-minute mark of the last quarter had team-mates leaping in the air and left opponents sprawled on the ground.
He baulked around Stan Magro, had one bounce, then threaded the ball through from the boundary.
Later, Bartlett recalled how he had wanted to leave Richmond last summer.
“Unfortunately, there were a lot of differences between me and the club,” he said.
“There were personality clashes. I felt unwanted.
“Honestly, I never worried about where I played,” said the 33-year-old former champion rover whose switch to a half-forward flank has given him a second “life”.
“But the problem was whether I played.”
Coach Tony Jewell, as always prepared to accept blame when it is pointed his way, admitted that he was much of the reason for Bartlett’s reluctance to line up this year.
“I said a few off-the-cuff things which I regretted later,” Jewell said.
“Kevin had the feeling he wasn’t wanted.”
Jewell said much of the Tigers’ incentive this year was to prove to Bartlett and Francis Bourke that this side was as good as the others in which they had played.
Jewell, too, was in a troubled position midway through last year when the Tigers were headed for their worst season since 1964.
He said then he believed his job was in jeopardy – and club president Ian Wilson called special committee meeting to re-inforce the club’s backing for Jewell.”
Trevor Grant, The Age
“Mark Lee does not have a fond recollection of a visit to Victoria Park in the middle of winter last year. His team was walloped, he got a thrashing and he had a run-in with the coach.
Richmond was on the skids and Collingwood took full advantage. One of the instigators of that was Magpie ruckman Peter Moore.
Moore was the man who caused Lee so much trouble. Richmond coach Tony Jewell sent out a stream of messages to his young ruckman to play close to the Collingwood star but they were ignored. Harsh words followed.
It has taken 21-year-old Lee more than 12 months to return the compliment to Moore. And he could not have chosen a better occasion – the day his team humiliated Collingwood to win the 1980 premiership.
Lee, voted best player by ‘The Age’ football writers on Saturday, said after the Tigers’ triumph that he had gone out with one purpose. “I didn’t go out to be best on the ground. I went out to stop Peter Moore from being best on the ground,” he said.
“I knew that if I could stop Moore from getting the ball we would win.” What was expected to be a duel between two of the youngest and best ruckmen in the League flopped – like the game.
Lee out-ran, out-jumped and out-marked the 1979 Brownlow Medallist, giving him probably one of the most conclusive hidings of his career.
Lee says that one of the main reasons for his rise this year has been the realisation that he had to change his attitude. “I had a bad reputation,” he said.
“I was always back-chatting umpires and throwing my hands around. I used to get into a lot of trouble and I know the umpires didn’t like me.
“The club believed I was big-headed, although I didn’t think I was. This was the reason I was put in the back pocket a lot instead of being allowed to run on the ball.
“This year, with the help of Tony (Jewell), Neville Crowe and Eric Leech I have developed a new attitude.”
Tom Prior, The Sun
“Richmond “ruined” Saturday’s VFL grand final by being too strong, Collingwood by being too weak.
That is a common reaction among neutral fans to the Tigers’ record 81-point win.
Certainly the grand final was a disappointment, a one-sided mis-match. The result was never in doubt after the first quarter.
But it could also prove to be the most significant football game of the new decade.
What hope, for instance, has any team against the Tigers unless it can match their physical power, size, strength and non-stop aggression?
Not to mention the skill and dedication of Richmond’s smaller players and their direct, straight-ahead football.
What sort of a defence is needed against an attack which combines the height and muscle of David Cloke and Roach with the speed of Kevin Bartlett and Robert Wiley?
Obviously a defence like Richmond’s which kicks long and straight down the centre.
In the eighties we’ll see much less of the complicated handball and pretty play which Ron Barassi and North Melbourne made a feature of the seventies.
It is no co-incidence that Richmond and Collingwood, teams which favor basic football contested the grand final.”
Ron Carter, The Age
“Collingwood was not the only big loser in Saturday’s Grand Final debacle against Richmond. Football lost, too, and like the Magpies, could take years to recover.
Yet of Richmond coach Tony Jewell had had his way, the result could have been even more shattering.
“I’m sorry we didn’t kick another 10 goals,” said Jewell, as if the Tigers’ record Grand Final winning margin of 81 points was not enough.
The terrible anti-climax to season 1980 shocked the VFL as much as it did the Magpies.
This Richmond-Collingwood encounter was to have been the Grand Final to end all Grand Finals, a magnificent televised spectacular that would win further support for the game around Australia, and perhaps overseas.
Instead by half-time it was time to turn off the TV and mow the lawns – unless you were a Richmond supporter, of course.
As Collingwood coach Tom Hafey said, all he could do at half-time was pray for the miracle that never happened.
Grand Finals should be a contest between two great sides – this one wasn’t. There was one magnificent team, Richmond, and another which saved its worst game for football’s biggest day of the year.
VFL president Allen Aylett said: “I’ve gone on record many times this week in building up this particular game as the biggest Grand Final of all time.
“We have been let down.”
No matter which other team had been on the MCG on Saturday the Tigers would still have won the 198 flag in grand fashion.
The gap between Richmond, the top side for most of the year, and Collingwood, which labored to make the finals, was never more devastatingly obvious.
But Geelong would have got a lot closer than Collingwood which is why coach Billy Goggin felt so bitter watching Saturday’s match from the grandstand.
Goggin firmly believes his players should have been out there and were more worthy of a crack at the premiership than Collingwood.
Already Richmond is being hailed as the power of the 80s, the side which will set the standards and style for the next decade.
The Tigers were the last league club to win successive premierships in 1973 and 1974, and they could well do it again in 1980 and 1981.
They have everything a premiership side should have – the perfect blending of team effort, strength, skill, pace and quick thinking.
The big difference between Richmond this season and last year’s premiers Carlton is its more direct method of getting the ball to goals.
Hand passing is part of the Tigers’ flow-on game, but they don’t do it just to build up statistics.
One hand pass, if it’s needed, and a long kick is their way of winning the premiership.
Because of the lack of opposition from Collingwood they were able to indulge in more hand passing than usual on Saturday.
Football, of course, will get over the greatest premiership rout yet. But will Collingwood?
It’s inability to win Grand Finals – this was its seventh loss since it last won the flag in 1958 – is the riddle coach Tom Hafey, his match committee and players confronted for 50 minutes when they locked themselves away after the game . . .”