This fourth part of the six-part series comprises five players that the Sydney Swans, West Coast Eagles and Western Bulldogs could least afford to lose in season 2021 plus a pre-draft honourable mention.
It was 46 years after Geelong and Richmond had first met in a grand final, and not only did their 1967 rematch produce the reverse result, but the lead-up to the big dance had been starkly different.
This time Geelong was the perennial finalist, having made the top four (as it was then) in 1962, won the premiership against Hawthorn in 1963 and made the finals every year up to 1967. They finished third at the end of the home-and-away games and accounted for Collingwood and Carlton in successive weeks to set up a grand final against the ladder-topping Tigers.
Richmond who had finished just outside the four in fifth place in 1965 and 1966, took all before them in 1967, losing only three games in Tom Hafey’s second year as coach.
So the stage was set for a fast and brilliant game between two teams that boasted plenty of star players, and so it turned out, with Richmond winning their first grand final for 24 years. Leading by two points at three-quarter-time, the Tigers scored early and held on to win by nine points.
Ironically, for a game that included 12 players on each team that still rank in the club’s top 100 players 53 years later, two of the greatest and most skilful on the MCG that day don’t rate a mention. As they had made their reputation in Western Australia and arrived to play VFL at an age older than most, they didn’t have enough seasons in Victoria to chalk up the number of games required to make the cut and be regarded as one of football’s elite. While a valid argument that the top 100 lists don’t include all the champions past and present, it is more a case of exceptions to the rule.
Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer had one leg shorter than the other but had built such a reputation by the time he arrived at Geelong in 1962 as a 27-year-old that there was speculation that he may be named captain of the club for his first VFL game. It didn’t happen, but by the time the 1967 grand final came around, he had been captain for three years and won two best and fairest awards, and his partnership with rover Bill Goggin had become legendary.
The other Western Australian, Denis Marshall, played only five years at the Cats, and he won the best and fairest in 1966 and finished second in the Brownlow Medal count in 1968.
As well as having on display the greatest ruck-roving partnership of all time, the game featured possibly the greatest centre line of all time: Richmond’s Dick Clay, Bill Barrot and Francis Bourke. And the list of champions doesn’t end there. Royce Hart, then aged 19, was adjudged the second best Richmond player in the grand final in his first year of league football and took a mark that was rated by many judges as one of the best in VFL/AFL history. And a 20-year-old Kevin Bartlett was in his third year at the Tigers, winning the best and fairest and also judged one of the best in the premiership win, as he was in all five premierships he played in.
At the other end of the ground was Geelong’s full-forward, Doug Wade. Wade had arrived at the club from Horsham in 1961 and had already led the club’s goalscoring on six occasions, but his four goals in the grand final, which took him to 96 for the season, were not enough to overcome the strong Tiger outfit that went on to win four more premierships in the next 13 years before slumping into another premiership drought of 37 years, which ended only in 2017.