Michael Roach is Richmond’s first Homecoming Hero for the 2018 season.
The Tigers will pay tribute to Roach during the pre-game build-up at Sunday’s Round 3 clash with Hawthorn at the MCG.
Roach, a Richmond goalkicking great, will walk to the Punt Road end of the ground, where he’s bound to receive a warm reception from the Tiger Army.
He’ll kick a ceremonial goal, then sign the football and present it to a Richmond fan in the crowd.
Highlights of Roach’s glorious playing career with the Tigers also will be shown on the MCG’s screens.
Michael Roach was recruited to Richmond from Tasmanian club Longford by legendary Tassie Tiger talent scout Harry Jenkins.
Legend has it that Jenkins, who discovered the Tigers’ champion centre half-forward Royce Hart, told the Club: “I got another one for you.”
It’s hard to believe, but Roach, in fact, started his league career at Tigerland as a wingman!
He made his senior league debut with Richmond in Round 8 of the 1977 season against Footscray at the MCG and impressed on a wing, finishing with 18 disposals, four marks and a goal.
Roach played a further eight senior games that season and was awarded the Club’s Best First Year Player award. He also was a member of the Tigers’ reserve-grade premiership side in ’77.
The following season the lanky, tall teenager managed only three appearances at senior level for Richmond, but in 1979 his league career skyrocketed.
He went from a skinny wingman to a potent, high-flying full-forward, kicking 90 goals, earning All-Australian selection, and taking an astonishing mark against Hawthorn at the MCG in Round 5 that was subsequently adjudged the Tigers’ Mark of the Century, when the Club celebrated its 2008 league football centenary.
In 1980, Roach took his game to an even higher level, becoming just the second Richmond player ever (along with Jack Titus) to kick 100 goals in a season.
Roach finished the season with 112 goals, the inaugural John Coleman Medal as the competition’s leading goalkicker, and a premiership medallion after Richmond demolished Collingwood by 81 points in the 1980 Grand Final.
The man affectionately known as ‘Disco’ made it back-to-back Coleman Medals in 1981 with 86 goals.
By the time Roach’s career was over at the end of the 1980s, he had kicked 607 goals in 200 games. And he would have kicked quite a few more goals had injuries not hampered him in the latter phase of his league playing days.
Nevertheless, Michael Roach is one of the most popular, revered, successful figures in Tigerland’s rich history.
Seven times he topped Richmond’s goalkicking in a season, with the Club later naming its leading goalkicker award the Michael Roach Medal.
Tiger ‘Immortal’ Kevin Bartlett had the pleasure of playing alongside Roach and then coaching him.
Here’s Bartlett’s appraisal of Roach from the fine book ‘KB: A Life In Football’ . . .
“Roach is the best Richmond full-forward I have seen,” Bartlett said.
“He was unstoppable for a few years and complemented our side magnificently.
“I had the best seat in the house to see him take one of the truly great marks ever, his breathtaking leap over the heads of a number of Hawthorn players at the MCG in round five of 1979.
“He had a terrific pair of hands and followed it up with his beautiful kicking action. In fact, I rate him as the best kick for goal I have seen and would back him against anyone.
“He kicked 607 goals in 200 games and when you consider that injury kept him to just 10 senior games out of a possible 44 games in his final two seasons, his return in front of goals when fully fit was extraordinary.”
After retiring as a player, Roach stayed involved with his beloved Tigers, serving as a specialist coach for several seasons and then as team manager for the reserves.
His eldest son, Tom, had an 11-game senior career at Richmond from 2004-06.
These days ‘Roachy’ runs a highly-successful, financial-planning business ‘Michael Roach Financial Solutions’.
And he’s as passionate about the Tigers as ever, with last year’s drought-breaking premiership bringing him as much pleasure as when he played in the 1980 flag side.
Michael Roach profile
Height: 193cm (6ft 4in)
Playing weight: 92 kg (14.7)
Recruited to Richmond from: Longford (Tasmania)
Guernsey number at Richmond: No.8
Senior games at Richmond (1977-89): 200
Honours: Member of 1980 premiership side; seven-time winner of the Club’s Leading Goalkicker award (1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1986 and 1987); Coleman Medallist in 1980 and 1981; Richmond Hall of Fame inductee; Richmond Life Member; All-Australian representative in 1979; three-time Victorian State representative; dual Tasmanian State representative; member of Tasmania’s Team of the Century; winner of Richmond’s Mark of the Century award.