Mental health is always a big talking point in the AFL and unfortunately over the offseason we reached new heights.
In part one of my Round 1 selection highlights, I mentioned that both Jack Riewoldt and Marc Murphy would bring up the traditional milestone of 250 games in the first game of the season.
In the same game, Alex Rance will achieve 200 games and become the fifth current day Tiger (and the 30th Richmond player overall) to achieve this milestone. He will also move up Richmond’s top 100 list, passing former champion Basil McCormack who finished on 199 games and attracted descriptions such as “fearless”, “powerful” “vigorous” and “a tear through” during his league career which started in 1925 against Hawthorn in the Hawk’s first ever game of VFL football.
McCormack received two lengthy suspensions during his 12 years of nearly flawless football, but was also described as “fair” and picked up two Best and Fairest awards, two Premierships and five other grand final appearances as well as representing Victoria 13 times. He was considered by many of his peers as the greatest half back flanker ever.
Originally from Rochester, he scored only one goal during his career at the Tigers and coached in Tasmania for 9 years before returning to Richmond and serving on the committee for a number of years.
Bachar Houli, the only one of Richmond’s elite nine top 100 game players who has not had a near injury-free run over the past two years, will pass current Richmond official Neil Balme and ‘Ray’ Martin and move into outright 55th position on 160 games. Balme in his 159 games was also tough and ruthless and was not beyond starting some “biffo” if it favoured his team, as it did famously in the 1973 Grand Final won by Richmond where he took out both champion full back Geoff Southby and Vin Waite.
John ‘Ray’ Martin was the rover in the famous ruck combination of Jack Dyer, Perc Bentley and Martin – considered to be one of the best combinations of all time – and in what appeared to be a tiger trait – was another player described as ‘rugged’ and ‘fearless’. A ballroom dancing champion, he played in two premierships and won two best and fairest but controversially did not make the Tigers’ team of the century.
Brandon Ellis will equal the games tally of former Blackburn player Greg Strachan who played in the 1980 premiership side as a back man, and Nathan Foley, originally from Colac via the Geelong Under 18’s who -after an outstanding career that started in 2005 was forced into retirement by injuries and played his last game in 2014.
100 years after he played his last game (1919), Percy Maybury – who captain-coached Richmond for one year (1917) during his ten-year league career – will be joined on 128 games by Dylan Grimes. He already shares the 86th position with “Max” Hislop – the Leo Barry of 1921 with a match-saving mark in the dying minutes of the grand final (his second grand final win) – and the South African born (to Australian parents)
Jack Baggott whose original club was Dimboola and who later coached Essendon (1936-37) and South Melbourne (1940) with limited success. Baggott’s younger brother, Ron had a successful career at Melbourne.