Richmond’s match against Adelaide at Giants Stadium on Sunday will be the fifth time in the Club’s history that it has played a non-Sydney team in Sydney.
You have to go back 69 years for the first time this happened . . . Round 8 of the 1952 season, when the Tigers took on Collingwood at the SCG as part of a ground-breaking promotion of the Australian Football code, with games for premiership points at interstate and country venues that weekend.
In a low-scoring slog played on a rain-soaked SCG, before a crowd of 24,174, Richmond suffered a 36-point loss to the Magpies – 10.12 (72) to 5.6 (36).
There was, however, one positive for the Tigers with half-back Col Austen the unanimous choice as best-on-ground. According to ‘The Age’ newspaper’s match review: “His brilliant marking and accurate kicking frequently won applause.
“Steady and cool, he was a dominating figure, particularly in the second and third quarters when the rest of his side fell to pieces.”
Round 15, 1979 was the next time that Richmond played a non-Sydney side in “the Harbour City” – Fitzroy at the SCG.
Back then, before the birth of the Sydney Swans, the then VFL used to fixture particular matches during the season at the SCG in a bid to promote the code up north.
In stark contrast to Richmond’s inaugural game in Sydney against Collingwood in 1952, its 1979 clash with the Lions was an extremely high-scoring affair – 22.20 (152) to 20.15 (135) the Tigers’ way.
Gun Richmond full-forward Michael Roach booted seven goals in a superb performance, Bruce Monteath was excellent, finishing with 29 disposals, and veteran star Francis Bourke was at his rock-solid best in defence.
But it was the dazzling display of another Tiger “old-timer” in Kevin Bartlett that was a standout.
Bartlett had 40 disposals, kicked three goals (3.3), and ran rings around the Lions right throughout the contest.
‘The Sun’ newspaper’s Lou Richards paid a glowing tribute to Bartlett in his review of the game . . .
“The undoubted star of the match was my balding mate, Kevin Bartlett.
“The little marvel left Fitzroy for dead for pace, anticipation, judgment, courage and any and every football virtue you care to name . . .
“Bartlett set a marvellous example for his largely inexperienced team.”
Just over one year later, Richmond lined up against St Kilda at the SCG in Round 16 of the 1980 season.
The Tigers were red-hot favourites against the struggling Saints, yet, incredibly, trailed by six goals late in the first quarter.
St Kilda took a 10-point lead into the quarter-time break, but after that Richmond embarked on the greatest goalkicking spree in its history, piling on eight goals to nil in the second quarter, 11 goals to three in the third, and 10 goals to one in the final term, to finish with a Club record score of 34.18 (222) to 11.4 (70).
Richmond’s high-flying, star spearhead Michael Roach was best afield, with a dominant 10-goal display, while the ever-dangerous, evergreen, Kevin Bartlett (the oldest member of the Tigers’ team at 33 years and 136 days of age) bagged six, skipper Bruce Monteath scored five and David Cloke booted three.
Lou Richards, in his match report for The Sun, wrote: “Richmond full-forward Michael Roach, who has been struggling, kicked 10 goals, could have had 14, and was best man on the ground in a team which didn’t have a bad player.
“Mark Lee regained form and confidence to do everything right in the ruck and Dale Weightman and Robert Wiley were busy and effective little players.
“Kevin Bartlett? All I can say about ‘Hungry’ is that he is carving out a marvellous new career for himself on the half-forward flank.
“His game yesterday, when he kicked six goals and had a hand or a boot in as many more, was a reincarnation of his premiership form of 11 and 13 years ago.”
The last time Richmond played a non-Sydney side in Sydney was Round 18 of the 2000 season against North Melbourne at the SCG. That game resulted in a disappointing 78-point loss for the Tigers – 7.14 (56) to 20.14 (134).
Leon Cameron, who had 25 disposals, was Richmond’s best player, while ruckman Brad Ottens, 20 disposals, nine marks, and Mark Chaffey, 21 disposals, were valuable contributors for the Tigers.