Pre-1960s Tigers vs. Post-1960s Tigers
Updated: May 23, 2020
By Kevin Fitzpatrick
My selection of the top players since 1960 is largely based on what I’ve seen over the last 60 years. I’ve attended Richmond matches since the mid 1950s and closely watched the team since then. I also had regard to player records such as best and fairest and Hall of Fame selections.
In 2016 I selected my best 50 Tigers for the last 50 years which coincided with the Club asking Mike Sheahan to select his best 50 Tigers since 1966. Although the order differed a bit there were only three different selections in our respective top 50 players.
My top 20 players have been updated since 2016 based on performances over the last three seasons. This has resulted in the inclusion of Martin, Rance and Riewoldt in the top 20. Cotchin was already in the top 20 in 2016.
The selection of the top 20 players prior to 1960 was obviously much more difficult as I didn’t have the benefit of seeing the players perform other than when I was very young in the 1950s.
My selections are based on my research of Richmond records. I had regard to Hall of Fame selections, best and fairest awards, premierships, Victorian representation, finals’ performances, goal-kicking awards and games played for Richmond. The order of the top 20 was almost impossible to select although the top 5 was clear.
Top 20 Tigers Pre-1960
Jack Dyer – 1931-49, ruck, Tigers’ immortal, 6 B&F, 2 premierships, AFL Hall of Fame Legend;
Jack Titus – 1926-43, full forward, Tigers’ immortal, 970 goals, 2 B&F, 2 premierships, AFL Hall of Fame;
Vic Thorp – 1910-25, full back, Tigers’ immortal, 2 B&F, twice VFL best, 2 premierships, AFL Hall of Fame;
Roy Wright – 1946-59, ruck, 2 Brownlow medals, 4 B&F, AFL Hall of Fame;
Bill Morris – 1942-51, ruck, 1 Brownlow medal, 3 B&F, AFL Hall of Fame;
Des Rowe – 1946-57, half back, 2 B&F, captain 6 years, 7 Vic. games, Victorian captain, All Australian;
Basil McCormack – 1925-36, half back, 2 B&F, 2 premierships, good finals’ player, 13 Vic. games;
Gordon Strang – 1931-38, centre half back, 2 premierships, good finals’ player, 9 Vic. games;
Percy Bentley – 1925-40, ruck, 168 games as captain, 2 premierships, AFL Hall of Fame;
Allan Geddes – 1925-35, wing/centre, 1 B&F, 2 premierships, 18 finals, 9 games for Victoria;
Ray Martin –1930-40, rover, 2 B&F, 2 premierships, 4 games for Victoria;
Dan Minogue – 1920-25, ruck, 2 premierships as captain-coach, 1 B&F, AFL Hall of Fame;
Hugh James – 1909-23, ruck, 188 games, 2 premierships, 2 B&F, 6 games for Victoria;
Dick Harris – 1934-44, forward pocket, 548 goals, 196 games, 2 premierships, 9 Vic. games;
Jack Baggott – 1927-35, half-back, 2 premierships, good finals’ player, 4 Vic. games;
Max Oppy – 1942-54, back pocket, 185 games, 1 premiership, 4 games for Victoria;
Barney Herbert – 1909-21, ruck, 2 premierships, 2 B&F, 4 games for Victoria;
Kevin O’Neill – 1930-41, back pocket, 2 premierships, 10 games for Victoria;
Martin Bolger – 1930-39, back pocket, 1 B&F, 2 premierships;
Tom O’Halloran – 1925-34, ruck/forward, 2 premierships, 1 B&F, 2 Vic. games.
All of the above have been inducted into Richmond’s Hall of Fame apart from Gordon Strang. This is a strange omission as he was selected in Richmond’s team of the century in 1999. The top five above would clearly be in Richmond’s top 20 players since it commenced in the VFL in 1908. Some of the others might be also but without having seen them play it’s difficult to rank them against each other and those in the top 20 list post-1960. Therefore I am only prepared to rank the top 10 of all time (featured at the bottom of this article).
Top 20 Tigers Post-1960
Great centre half forward and key player in 4 premierships in 1960s and 1970s. Outstanding mark, great recovery, consistently good under pressure often being the match-winner in tight games. AFL Hall of Fame Legend and Richmond immortal.
Brilliant rover and late in career a prolific goal-kicking small forward. Very quick and tireless stamina he was consistently good over his 403 games. Five times best and fairest including 3 in premiership seasons. Played in 5 premierships. AFL Hall of Fame Legend and Richmond immortal.
Outstanding mid-fielder and forward who has consistently performed at his best in finals and other big matches. Best on ground in both grand finals he has played. Great strength in contests and powerful and accurate kick. Very selfless player who makes it easier for teammates. Regular All-Australian selection.
Inspirational player who starred firstly as a wingman in 2 premiership teams and later as a half-back and full-back in 3 more premiership teams. Very determined, strong, good long kick and great judgement. A Richmond immortal.
Outstanding key defender who was athletic, brave and a great reader of the game. He was a great interceptor who set up attacking moves. A 5 times All-Australian.
Great rover whose creativity and brilliant handball set up teammates. Was pacy, strong and aggressive. Regularly starred playing for Victoria winning state of origin medals and All-Australian selection.
Very athletic key forward who kicked 800 goals in 282 games mainly playing in a below average team. Strong contested marking was a strength. A 3 times All-Australian.
Classy centreman whose pace, poise and long-kicking made him stand out in the good Richmond teams of the late 70s and early 80s. Won 3 best and fairest awards in 7 seasons at Richmond.
Brilliant wingman in 2 premiership teams in the 60s and then an accomplished full-back in 2 premiership teams in the 70s. Very fast, skilful and an excellent long kick he played a key role in the great Richmond teams of the late 60s and early 70s.
Great competitor firstly as a back-pocket player and later as a ruck-rover. A very smart player he was influential in Richmond’s success in the late 60s and 70s. Played in 3 premiership teams and was in the best players in each of those wins.
Inspirational captain of 2 premiership teams. Skilful mid-fielder who has won 3 best and fairest awards and a Brownlow medal. In latter years became a strong contested ball winner and tackler and at his most influential when team was under pressure.
Outstanding team oriented key forward who has been a key player in 2 premiership teams. Won 2 best and fairest awards, 3 times All –Australian, 3 times Coleman medallist and Richmond’s leading goal-kicker in 9 seasons.
Versatile player who excelled in the back-pocket and at half-forward. A team oriented, very determined player who played in 2 premiership teams captaining the 1969 team. Very courageous player who was an inspiration to his teammates. A Richmond immortal.
Brilliant centreman who excelled in his three full seasons at Richmond. An all-round player with great balance, poise, courage, an outstanding mark and kick. A premiership player in 1973 and Brownlow medallist and best and fairest in 1971.
Highly skilled centreman who was an excellent tackler, very elusive and had superb disposal skills. Won 2 best and fairest awards and highly placed in all his six seasons at Richmond. Best on ground in 1982 grand final in his first season. Twice named in All-Australian team.
Strong marking ruckman who played in 4 premiership teams and performed at his best in finals and other big matches. Richmond’s best player in all three finals’ matches in 1969 including the grand final.
Consistently good over 15 seasons usually playing in the mid-field. Skilful, determined and a prolific ball-winner he won 4 best and fairest awards and finished second three times. Twice selected in the All-Australian team.
Very talented and versatile player who played in 3 premiership teams as a half-forward, full-back and in 1974 kicking 5 goals as full-forward. A smart player who was very reliable and good under pressure.
Champion ruckman during some lean years in early 1960s. Performed well against great ruckmen of the era. Won 3 best and fairest awards and was second twice. Regular Victorian player and All-Australian in 1966.
Match-winning centreman and occasional forward who was inconsistent but excelled in big games. Played in 2 premiership teams and was in best players in both grand finals. Fast and strong with a long kick he was a regular Victorian player.
Others seriously considered
A number of other players were considered for the top 20 since 1960 and were close to being selected. They were:
Ron Branton – outstanding back pocket player with 3 B&F in early 60s;
Bryan Wood – top wingman of the 70s and early 80s, 3 premiership teams;
Barry Rowlings – consistently good mid-fielder in 1980s, 1980 premiership;
Michael Roach – high-flying full forward, 607 goals in 200 games, 1980 premiership;
Matthew Knights – classy centreman with 2 B&F in the 90s;
Brett Deledio – classy utility player in 2000s, 2 B&F, 2 times All-Australian.
Top 10 Tigers 1908 to 2019
1. Royce Hart
2. Kevin Bartlett
3. Jack Dyer
4. Dustin Martin
5. Francis Bourke
6. Jack Titus
7. Vic Thorp
8. Roy Wright
9. Bill Morris
10. Alex Rance