Richmond Football Club, nicknamed The Tigers, competes in the Australian Football League. Still considered one of the "big four" Melbourne clubs, Richmond shares healthy rivalries with Carlton, Collingwood and Essendon. After winning five premierships between 1967 and 1980, the club hit the depths in 1990, when a large debt almost forced them to fold. In the last 15 years, Richmond has worked itself back into a strong financial position without enjoying any sustained finals success. But the Tigers boast a mighty history (ten premierships) and a host of star players and personalities who have contributed to the formation of the unique Richmond football identity.
Since its inception in the mid-1880s, the club has been based at the Richmond Cricket Ground (better known as the Punt Road Oval), just a few hundred metres to the east of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where the Tigers have played their home games since 1965. A late bloomer, Richmond struggled until the start of the twentieth century, so it was not offered an invitation to join the Victorian Football League (VFL) until 1908. After World War I, Richmond matured quickly, enjoyed more success than many of the more established clubs. The Tigers created great rivalries with both Carlton and Collingwood. At this time, the city of Richmond was an industrial, blue-collar area nicknamed "Struggletown". The working-class supporters identified strongly with the club and the Tigers developed a massive following during the golden period of the 1930s.
Extraordinary high points interspersed among long periods of mediocrity has been the pattern of the club's form in the years since World War II. Regardless, Richmond's team has to only show a hint of success and a game against one of the other "big four" will pack them in at the MCG. In 1972, the Tigers were the first sporting team in Australia to attract one million paying spectators in a season, an extraordinary achievement.
The 2008 season has been an improvement on the last, with the side lifting into 9th spot on the end of season ladder - just missing out on a finals berth. Wallace enters the last year of his contract in 2009, and is facing pressure by local media and supporters to make the finals or lose his job. There is also debate over his relationship with the board and President Gary March.
At first the team wore a blue uniform. One of the most important features of a nineteenth century footballer's uniform was his headgear, and Richmond opted for yellow and black striped caps, the same as the cricket club. After a couple of years, yellow and black stripes replaced blue as the colours of the team's guernseys. The team was variously called the "Richmondites", the "Wasps" or, most commonly, the "Tigers".
During the late 1880s, the VFA was expanding rapidly. A booming economy and large numbers of immigrants made Melbourne the largest city in the Australian colonies. The city was besotted with football and many clubs clamoured for admission to the VFA. Richmond struggled to make an impression and after a promising season in 1888 (when they finished fifth with eleven wins), the club slipped backwards. In a theoretically amateur sport, the strongest teams were luring the best talent with undisclosed payments to players and were not keen to schedule matches against teams with poor followings (such as Richmond) that couldn't generate much gate money.
Having missed a potential bonanza from a premiership play-off, the VFA decided to emulate the VFL and introduce a finals series in VFA to a far greater extent than the rival VFL. Richmond cultivated links with some League clubs by playing practice matches against them. The Tigers knew that they were a major asset to the Association. They had built up a large following and played on one of the best grounds in the competition, where they remained unbeaten for five consecutive seasons. In 1905, Richmond confirmed their status with a second premiership, this time overcoming bitter rivals North Melbourne, a club perceived as the antithesis of Richmond. In sensational circumstances the year before, (1904) Richmond announced that it would not meet North Melbourne in the Grand Final if Umpire Allen was appointed, due to Richmond officials and players severe criticism in Allen's previous performance against North Melbourne at Arden Street in July. When the VFA appointed Allen for the Grand Final, Richmond advised it was forfeiting and North Melbourne therefore became the 1904 Premiers.'Mallee' Johnson had moved to Carlton, but youngster Charlie Ricketts dominated the season and won plaudits among the pressmen, who voted him the best player in the VFA.
However, Ricketts was also lost to the VFL and injury hit the club hard. In 1906-07, the Tigers played finals without looking likely to win the flag. The club earned a rebuke from the VFA for scheduling a practice match against Geelong before the 1907 season, but Richmond went ahead with the commitment and earned further censure. Later in the year it became clear that qualification was automatic.
Finally, in 1919, the Tigers made their first Grand Final appearance, losing to Collingwood. Richmond stoked a rivalry with the Magpies by recruiting their former skipper Dan Minogue as playing coach and the Tigers gained vengeance by beating Collingwood in the 1920 Grand Final to secure a first flag in the big league. This was followed by an even better performance the next year. The only club that continued to beat Richmond on a regular basis was Carlton. Finishing minor premier with only one loss for the season in 1921, the Blues were the hottest premiership favourite, yet Richmond managed to beat them in two classic finals matches played over successive weeks to go back-to-back. Almost overnight, the Tigers had overtaken foundation clubs such as Geelong and Melbourne on the premierships-won table.
The rest of the decade saw four more Grand Final appearances, all of which would end in frustration. From 1927 to 1929 Richmond became the first club in the VFL to lose three consecutive Grand Finals, all of which were to ]] returned to training on the eve of the season. The problems appeared to have been solved when the Tigers won the semi final against Melbourne to go straight into the Grand Final. However, the Demons reversed this result with a crushing win to pinch the premiership. The Tigers had been out-thought by their old mentor Checker Hughes, who had assigned a tagger to negate Dyer. Dyer was furious that Bentley had done nothing to prevent his opponent taking him out of the game. The Richmond committee agreed with this assessment, so when Bentley (after retiring as a player) attempted to negotiate a higher fee to continue his coaching tenure, he was rebuffed. Incensed, Bentley quit Punt Road and moved to Carlton as coach, adding further spice to an already fierce rivalry between the two clubs.
Despite the tribulations created by the Second World War, the Tigers were able to maintain a commendable level of consistency on the field. The club had quite a lot of players in reserved occupations who remained at home, while the administration became adept at securing star players who were temporarily in Melbourne on war service. Dyer was a fearsome presence in his role as playing coach, but he was unable to improve the Tigers' ability to win finals matches. A loss in the 1942 Grand Final to Essendon (after starting as favourite) meant that over the previous 18 years, Richmond had won two flags but been runner-up eight times.
The Tigers were dominant in 1972 and were hot favourites in the Grand Final against Carlton. However, the Blues stunned the Tigers in a game of ridiculous high scoring. Even Richmond equalled the then record highest score in a Grand Final of 22.18(150), but Carlton beat it with 28.9(177). The Tigers got their revenge in an intensely physical clash in the 1973 Grand Final and went back-to-back in 1974 with a strong win against a resurgent North Melbourne.
Richmond won its last premiership with a then record-breaking margin of 81 points over arch-rivals Collingwood in the 1980 Grand Final. After reaching and losing the 1982 VFL Grand Final, the rebel group organised by long-time servant Bill Durham, convinced former player and coach Barry Richardson to be leader. An election in late 1984 failed to clarify the situation. The challengers had the numbers, but Ian Wilson stubbornly held on to the presidency into the new year. When the one hundredth birthday of the club arrived in February 1985, there was too much dissension to mark the moment fittingly. Eventually, Wilson handed over to Richardson, who had selected his former premiership teammate Paul Sproule to return from Tasmania and take over the coaching position on a guaranteed contract.
As the season progressed with Richmond still struggling, Sproule came under pressure. Richardson guaranteed his position but at the end of the year the committee over-ruled Richardson and sacked Sproule. Incensed, Richardson walked out of Punt Road, which was in turmoil again. Desperately, the Tigers turned back to Tony Jewell, who was appointed coach for a second time, the only man in the club's history to get a second go at the job. Jewell later commented on the destruction wrought on the club during his four year absence..."the without presiding over a single game. The off-field confusion was reflected in the players' performance as Richmond slumped to only its second wooden spoon in 70 years.
Finally, with the economy in serious recession and interest rates touching seventeen per cent, Richmond's creditors began calling in the debts. At one point, an attempt was made to seize the club's 1973-74 premiership trophies as securities for unpaid debts, an embarrassing situation. For a number of years, the exact amount that the club owed was not publicly known. After Bartlett came Allan Jeans, who then passed the job to ex-Tiger premiership player John Northey for 1993. Northey returned the team to the simple long-kicking style of the halcyon days under the legendary Tom Hafey. Along with some draft concessions granted by the AFL, Northey's efforts gradually improved the Tigers. The team fumbled an opportunity to make the 1994 finals, then opened 1995 with its best start to a season in 75 years and eventually made it to the preliminary final. With a talented playing list and a strong administration led by Leon Daphne (the Tigers' first president from the corporate world, the Alan Bond farce aside), Richmond looked set to become regular finalists again.
The Tigers must be mindful that a couple of years of bad losses could undo Richmond's position. The club has only to look at their struggling old rivals Carlton to realise that no situation is impregnable. Meanwhile, the supporters clamour for a return to the successes of the 1960s and 1970s. With a sixteen-team competition regulated by the salary cap and the player draft, success is much more difficult to achieve than in the old era under the VFL. Richmond's challenge will be to win more matches than it has in the recent past, to secure the better fixtures from the AFL, draw its share of media attention and therefore keep the books balanced.
Richmond remains entrenched at its spiritual home at a time when even Collingwood has moved its base. The Punt Road Oval has benefited from money coming from the Jack Dyer Foundation (established 1996) and more recently, a government grant announced in 2006. Eventually, the redevelopment will be a twenty-first century facility available to the people of Richmond, a far cry from the dilapidated state it was left in for many years. Most importantly, it will remain the physical link between the club and the proud community from which it materialised 120 years ago.
In round 6, 2007, Richmond suffered its biggest ever loss against Geelong, losing by a staggering 157 points. After this match, coach Wallace said the loss was "unacceptable and embarrassing" and the club officially apologised on their website for the inept performance.
The Tigers finished last in the 2007 season with only 3 and a half wins. (Wins against Essendon, Collingwood and Melbourne. Drew with Brisbane).
Next up came the 2007 AFL Draft the Tiger recruited highly rated midfielder Trent Cotchin with their 1st pick (number 2 overall), backman Alex Rance (pick number 18 overall) and ruckman Dean Putt (pick number 51 overall). Then in the Pre Season draft the elected to pick David Gourdis with the number one pick. The Tigers also picked Clayton Collard, Jarrod Silvester, Tristan Cartledge and Cameron Howat for thie rookie list. Cam Howat had previously been on the rookie list but was delisted then picked up again.
The Tigers had kept a low profile going into their Round 1 clash against Carlton. Many people predicted Carlton would run all over Richmond because Carlton had received Chris Judd during the trade period. The Tigers trailed by as much as 25 points during the second quarter but they came back, led by Matthew Richardson kicking 5 goals. The Tigers ended up winning 17.7 (109) to Carlton 11.13 (79) in front of a crowd of 72,552 at the MCG.
Following a previous dismal season, Richmond finished 9th overall, narrowly missing out on a place in the finals.
The building of the fan base was a slow burn for Richmond. In the 1890s, the club never sold more than three hundred season's tickets, but the following was built up with success in the VFA and membership numbered about 2,000 at the time of admission to the VFL in 1908. Between the wars, the club captured the imagination of the residents of Richmond. The successful Tigers were a positive motif for the oppressed working class community which suffered deprivation during the Great Depression. At this time, the Richmond community was almost one-half Catholic, and this demographic was reflected in the club amongst the players and officials.
As Melbourne dramatically spread out in the post-war years, so too did the Richmond supporters. Many were now concentrated in the eastern suburbs, which eventually formed the club's metropolitan recruiting zone. Indeed, at one point during the early development of the Waverley Park ground, the Tigers considered making the stadium its home for this reason. Following the barren period of the 1950s, Richmond was able to tap into the large number of fans by moving home matches to the MCG and almost doubled attendance figures. The Tigers maintained this advantage over the other clubs until the mid-1980s, when poor administration led to a downturn in every area of the club. As the club struggled for funds, the membership plummeted from over 10,000 to under 3,000.
The greatest display of loyalty from the fans occurred during 1990. Threatened by liquidation, the supporters rallied to pay off the multi-million dollar debt via the "Save Our Skins" campaign. During the fully professional AFL era, the Tigers have enjoyed a level of support that allows it to determine its own destiny by regularly turning a profit. With the growth of the game outside Victoria, Richmond has picked up a lot of support in the other states of Australia.
|Year||Ticketed Members||Placing||Total Attendances1||Average Attendance1|
At the completion of the 2007 season this equated to 13,205,085 people who had attended a Tigers' match over the last sixteen years, for an average of 37,514 - quite remarkable figures for a team that has made the finals only twice in the period.
The Official Richmond Cheer Squad are an organised group of passionate supporters that attend every Richmond game whether in Melbourne or interstate, recognised as being the most passionate of supporters.
Club culture can be indefinable. It is a mixture of history, personalities, media invention and supporter desire but it is also very much a product of how the people actually involved with the club view themselves over time. Club identity can change over time or it can change temporarily.
Initially, Richmond saw itself as a gentlemanly and sportsman-like club; it even went to the extent of sacking a player who used poor language. During the early 1900s, the club used the press as a forum to publicise a campaign against violence in the game, which earned the derision of some rival clubs. This image followed the club into the VFL in 1908 and during the First World War the club emphasised the number of men associated with the club who had enlisted and served overseas. But the club's actions in 1916, when it voted with three other clubs seen as representative of the working class (Collingwood, Fitzroy and Carlton) to continue playing football, left no doubt as to which side of the class divide that the Tigers belonged. The club's self-consciously non-confrontational image can be partly attributed to two of long serving presidents - George Bennett (1887-1908) and Frank Tudor (1909-1918). Both were Richmond men and respected parliamentarians who took the view that how the game was played was more important than whether the game was won.
After World War I, the club's attitude hardened as they attempted to match it with the then power clubs Collingwood and Carlton. Eventually, the Tigers became more prosaic in their approach to recruiting and training.
The club's home ground is the Melbourne Cricket Ground where they play most of their home matches in the regular season. The MCG has capacity of 100,000, and the club usually draws large attendances against Victorian clubs, particularly against rivals such as Essendon, Collingwood and Carlton.
VFL/AFL Reserve Premierships
VFL/AFL Under 19 Premierships
Pre-season/Night Series Premierships
VFL/AFL Wooden Spoons
|Win-Loss Record:||Played: 2027||Won: 1029, Lost: 979, Drawn: 19 (to end of 2008 Season)|
|Highest Score:||34.18 (222)||vs. St. Kilda Football Club, Round 16, 1980 at SCG|
|Lowest Score:||0.8 (8)||vs. St. Kilda Football Club, Round 16, 1961 at Junction Oval|
|Greatest Winning Margin:||168 points||vs. North Melbourne Football Club, Round 2, 1931 at Punt Road Oval|
|Greatest Losing Margin:||157 points||vs. Geelong Football Club, Round 6, 2007 at Telstra Dome|
|Biggest Match Attendance:||119,165||vs. Carlton Football Club, Grand Final, 1969 at MCG|
|Biggest Home & Away Match Attendance:||92,436||vs. Collingwood Football Club, Round 4, 1977 at MCG|
|Brownlow Medal Winners:||4||Stan Judkins (1930), Bill Morris (1948), Roy Wright (1952 & 1954), Ian Stewart (1971)|
|Most Games:||403||Kevin Bartlett (1965-1983)|
|Most Games as Captain:||168||Percy Bentley (1932-1940)|
|Most Games as Coach:||248||Tom Hafey (1966-1976)|
|Most Club Best & Fairest Awards:||6||Jack Dyer (1932, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1946)|
|Most Seasons as Club Leading Goalkicker:||13||Matthew Richardson (1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)|
|Most Goals in a Career:||970||Jack Titus (1926-1943)|
|Most Goals in a Season:||112||Michael Roach (1980)|
|Most Goals in a Match:||14||Doug Strang (vs. North Melbourne Football Club, Round 2, 1931 at Punt Road Oval)|
|Youngest Player:||15 years 328 days||Mick Maguire (Round 1, 1910)|
|Oldest Player:||36 years 215 days||David Cloke (Round 24, 1991)|
Awarded 1858 to 1945
* Michael Roach was the first winner of the Coleman Medal in 1981. Retrospective awards were dated back to 1955. Prior to 1955 the Leading Goalkicker Medal was awarded.
As players of the game:
As coaches of the game:
|Bill Barrot 2007 Kevin Bartlett 2002|
Percy Bentley 2002
Martin Bolger 2005
Francis Bourke 2002
Ron Branton 2006
Dick Clay 2002
David Cloke 2007
Roger Dean 2002
Jack Dyer 2002
Alec Edmond 2007
Alan Geddes 2007
|Michael Green 2004 Clarrie Hall 2006|
Dick Harris 2004
Royce Hart 2002
Frank Hughes 2004
Hugh James 2005
Jim Jess 2008
Mervyn Keane 2005
Basil McCormack 2004
Bill Morris 2002
Kevin O'Neill 2008
Max Oppy 2004
|Geoff Raines 2008 Michael Roach 2002|
Des Rowe 2004
Kevin Sheedy 2002
Vic Thorp 2002
Jack Titus 2002
Dale Weightman 2002
Bryan Wood 2006
Roy Wright 2002
|Tom Hafey 2002 Dan Minogue 2002||Charlie Backhouse 2002 Charlie Callander 2002|
James Charles 2002
Allan Cooke 2006
Neville Crowe 2002
Ray Dunn 2002
Barney Herbert 2004
Tony Jewell 2002
Barry Richardson 2004
Graeme Richmond 2002
Alice Wills 2002
The Tigers first wore their clash jumper against Essendon in the penultimate round of the 2007 season, winning by 27 points.
Richmond's club mascot is named after AFL legend Jack "Captain Blood" Dyer.