In the lead-up to tonight’s big Richmond v Western Bulldogs clash at the MCG, Tony Greenberg reflects on the history of matches between the two teams at AFL football’s premier ground.
The last time Richmond and the Western Bulldogs met under the MCG lights on a Friday night, Shane Edwards made his senior debut for the Tigers.
A then 18-year-old Edwards had eight disposals and took four marks in a fairly inconspicuous performance, with Richmond going down by 32 points.
Also debuting that night in the famous Yellow and Black guernsey was mature-aged recruit Jake King. The 23-year-old plumber, recruited by the Tigers from their VFL affiliate at the time, Coburg, finished with 12 disposals and six marks.
Surprisingly, Richmond and the Bulldogs have played each other on just one other occasion on a Friday night at the ‘G’. That match took place in Round 5, 1999, and it was the Bulldogs who emerged victorious by 62 points.
Overall, the Tigers and Dogs have done battle at the MCG only 38 times throughout AFL/VFL history. Richmond has won 23 and lost 15, but it is a different story this century. Since 2000, the Western Bulldogs have won six of 10 encounters.
The most recent clash between the two sides occurred in the final home-and-away round of the 2018 season, with the Tigers scraping in by three points.
Dustin Martin was superb on that Saturday afternoon, with 33 disposals, 12 inside-50s, nine clearances and a goal. He subsequently received two Brownlow Medal votes for that display.
Six years earlier, Trent Cotchin produced one of the best performances of his illustrious career at Tigerland in the Round 20, 2012 meeting with the Bulldogs. He had 35 disposals, seven clearances, five inside-50s, seven marks and kicked three goals in Richmond’s 70-point win. Not surprisingly, he was awarded the three Brownlow votes for that dominant display.
Perhaps the most memorable Tigers v Dogs MCG match was in Round 2 of the 2001 season, on Saturday, April 7. That was the day of the infamous Matthew Knights-Tony Liberatore incident, which dominated the AFL football headlines for many days and sparked a fierce feud between the two clubs.
The inaugural Richmond v Bulldogs (or Footscray as the club was called back then) fixture at the MCG was in Round 2, 1966 on Saturday, April 30 – exactly 50 years ago today.
Star recruit from Victorian country club Kyabram, Dick Clay, made his highly-publicised debut for the Tigers, lining up at centre half-forward on Bulldog legend Ted Whitten.
Clay acquitted himself extremely well, finishing with 22 disposals, while Frank Dimattina, five goals, Paddy Guinane, four goals, and Fred Swift, four goals, all played significant roles in Richmond’s 70-point victory.