With Fox Footy celebrating 1990s Retro Round this weekend, and Richmond playing Fremantle at Perth’s Optus Stadium, Tony Greenberg reflects on the inaugural clash between the two teams in the opening round of the 1995 season.

Just as it had done with Hawthorn in 1925, and the West Coast Eagles in 1987, Richmond welcomed Fremantle into the league football competition in 1995.

The Dockers had been granted a licence to enter the now AFL competition as the 16th club.

They lined up for their first game in Round 1, 1995 against the Tigers at the MCG on Saturday, April 1, before a moderate-sized crowd of 26,219.

09:35 Mins
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Rewind: Richmond v Fremantle, Round 1, 1995

Highlights of the inaugural clash between Richmond and Fremantle in the opening round of the 1995 season.

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Richmond, coached by dual Tiger premiership player John Northey had finished ninth in 1994 (12 wins, 10 losses) on the back of a strong surge in the second half of the season, and was a warm favourite going into the clash with the league’s newcomer.

Fremantle’s first coach was WA football great Gerard Neesham and its captain was 1991 Hawthorn premiership player Ben Allan.

It was the Dockers, who took the early ascendancy in the game, much to the displeasure of the parochial Yellow and Black crowd, taking a narrow four-point lead into the first change.

In the second quarter, however, the home side gradually gained the upper hand and, by the long break, the Tigers were 12 points in front. 

That lead should have been significantly greater, with Richmond having 19 shots to Fremantle’s 12 at half-time.

All the evidence in the third term pointed to a runaway Tiger victory, with the team’s midfield of Wayne Campbell, Matthew Knights, Chris Bond, Chris Naish and Paul Broderick asserting considerable influence.

By three-quarter-time, Richmond’s advantage had been stretched to 26 points and, with the Tiger Army in full cry, the result looked a formality.

Richmond's Nathan Bower in action against Fremantle in Round 1, 1995.

Not to be denied, however, the Dockers dug deep and gave the Tigers a big fright in the last quarter.

They kicked 5.4 to 2.3 and had cut the deficit to a nerve-jangling five points, when the final siren signalled blessed relief for Richmond’s players, coaches, officials and fans – a five-point win (12.18 to 12.13).

The three Brownlow Medal votes in the match went to Richmond centre half-forward (these days the Club’s CEO) , Brendon Gale, who had 14 kicks, three handballs, seven marks and kicked two goals in an influential display. Former Essendon player Todd Ridley received the two votes for his first-up effort with Fremantle, while ex-Bulldog, Swan and Crow Stuart Wigney was given one vote for his strong performance in the Tigers’ defence.

Match details

Richmond    3.6    6.13    10.15    12.18 (90)
Fremantle    4.4    5.7    7.9    12.13 (85)

Goals – Richmond:  Daffy 3, Edwards 2, B. Gale 2, Richardson 2, Broderick, Campbell, Tape.

Leading possession-winners – Richmond: Campbell 27, Bond 23, Knights 22, Naish 22, Broderick 18, Daffy 17, B. Gale 17.

Goals – Fremantle: Groom 3, Ridley 3, Bell 2, Abraham, Allan, Burrows, Edwards.

Leading possession-winners – Fremantle: Allan 28, Kickett 22, Burton 21, Watters 19, Delaney 17.

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