It is 50 years today since two South Australian stars played their one and only game together with Richmond due to a special loan arrangement.
Full-forward Malcolm Greenslade and rover Mick Nunan, dual premiership teammates at SANFL club Sturt, lined up for the Tigers against South Melbourne at the Lake Oval on Saturday, April 24, 1971.
Under an Australian National Football Council (the game’s governing body back then) ruling relating to National Servicemen, Greenslade and Nunan were permitted to play VFL football, subject to Sturt’s approval, which they initially gained.
Greenslade and Nunan were doing National Service training in Victoria at the time and Richmond won the race to secure their services on loan. The Tigers harboured hopes that the loan would lead to something more permanent with the pair – but it was not to be.
A week earlier, Greenslade had made an impressive debut with Richmond against St Kilda at Waverley Park, highlighted by a spectacular mark he took that subsequently was nominated as one of the Club’s top 10 marks of its 100 years in the AFL/VFL competition.
Nunan had played in the reserve-grade curtain-raiser that day, and with some valuable match practice under his belt, he was selected to join Greenslade in the Tigers’ senior team for the Round 4 match against South Melbourne.
It was a powerful Richmond line-up that the SA duo had broken into, containing top-class players such as Royce Hart, Kevin Bartlett, Kevin Sheedy, Francis Bourke, Roger Dean, Michael Green, Ian Stewart, Dick Clay, Barry Richardson and Rex Hunt, but Greenslade and Nunan clearly were not overawed by the occasion.
The Tigers scored a massive 94-point victory over South, with Greenslade and Nunan both making significant contributions to the success.
Nunan, who many years later (briefly) coached Fitzroy, wore the No. 23 Yellow and Black guernsey and was a lively performer, kicking three goals and setting up several others through his constructive play.
Meanwhile, Greenslade, in the No. 26 guernsey, was on fire up forward for his adopted Victorian team. He marked superbly and finished with six goals in a dominant display that underlined his class.
Unfortunately, Greenslade and Nunan never represented Richmond again, as Sturt convinced them to return and play out the rest of the ’71 season in the SANFL on a fly-in basis for each match.
Five decades on, you wonder what might have been, had Malcolm Greenslade and Mick Nunan remained at Richmond, under the great Tommy Hafey’s coaching guidance. Chances are they could well have gone on to be members of the tremendous Tiger teams that captured back-to-back premierships in 1973-74.
Here is ‘The Age’ newspaper’s report of the Round 4, 1971 Richmond v South Melbourne clash by Jim Robb . . .
“While the scoreboard at South Melbourne told the tale of Richmond’s win – 33 scoring shots to South’s meagre 14 – there was more to it than that.
South players fumbled the ball, spilled easy marks, kicked atrociously and tackled poorly.
In contrast the faster Tigers, who dominated all positions, used every skill to perfection.
South Melbourne, weakened by the loss of injured players Russell Cook and Wayne Walsh, looked capable of making a game of it in the first term.
At the first change the Swans trailed by a point, 2.2 to 2.3 – the closest they got to Richmond.
South added only 3.7 after that, and the Tigers piled on 18.10.
Richmond had many brilliant players but the Swans had a few men who put in any real effort in rovers Stephen Hoffman and Haydn McAuliffe and follower Peter Brown.
Former St Kilda centreman Ian Stewart was unbeatable in the centre. He easily eclipsed South’s John Murphy and created many opportunities for his teammates.
Malcolm Greenslade, moved to full-forward midway through the second term after Royce Hart had been down, benefitted from Stewart’s dominance.
Greenslade kicked six goals and most of them after a Stewart pass or from teammates who received the ball from the brilliant pivot player.
Richmond’s ruck was well on top through Brian Roberts, Rex Hunt and Ray Boyanich and its rovers Kevin Bartlett and newcomer Mick Nunan easily had the edge.
From goal-to-goal Richmond held the upper hand. Kevin Sheedy, Barry Richardson, Mike Green, Graham Burgin and the other Tiger defenders repelled the few South attacks.
Across the centre Francis Bourke, Stewart and Dick Clay were too talented, forwards Eric Moore, Roger Dean and Greenslade were too elusive for their opponents.”
Richmond 2.3 8.6 17.10 20.13 (133)
South Melbourne 2.2 3.2 3.9 5.9 (39)
Goals – Richmond: Greenslade 6, Bartlett 4, Moore 3, Nunan 3, Boyanich 3, Dean.
Leading disposal-winners – Richmond: Stewart 31, Bourke 29, Bartlett 28, Clay 24, Dean 22, Hunt 22, Moore 22, Nunan 21.
Best – Richmond: Stewart (best on ground), Greenslade, Moore, Bartlett, Boyanich, Bourke, Green, Burgin, Dean.
Goals – South Melbourne: Skilton 2, Hoffman, McAuliffe, Prentice.
Leading disposal-winners – South Melbourne: McAuliffe 34, Skilton 27, Hoffman 21.
Best – South Melbourne: Hoffman, Brown, McAuliffe.