From the Archives, 1967: Geelong and Richmond in a grand final thriller

First published in The Age on September 25, 1967

AFTER 24 YEARS IT’S “EAT ‘EM ALIVE!”

Led by captain Fred Swift, the victorious Richmond team runs a lap of honour after winning the premiership. Credit:The Age Archives

Fred Swift bows out with a flag

Richmond captain Fred Swift does not believe in half measures. The 29-year-old full-back came off the field on Saturday as Richmond’s 967 premiership captain, and promptly announced his retirement from League football.

In his only season as Richmond captain, Swift now quits the League scene as the Tigers’ most successful leader over the past 24 years.

The win 16.18 to 15.15 ended a Richmond premiership drought that had dogged the club since 1943.

But while Richmond took the premiership, Geelong emerged from the Grand Final as a team equally deserving of this coveted football honor in the eyes of the 109,392 crowd.

Geelong matched Richmond in skill, clever teamwork and fighting spirit to produce such a top-class Grand Final that it was almost unfair that one team had to lose.

Only one thing marred the day – the reporting of two Geelong players.

Richmond captain Fred Swift holds aloft the premiership cup, beside Geelong captain Polly Farmer. Credit:The Age Archives

The umpires alone seemed to read unnecessary roughness into the incidents.

Geelong full-forward Doug Wade was reported by field umpire Peter Sheales for striking Graeme Burgin, of Richmond, with the clenched fist.

Full-back Roy West has to face a charge laid by goal umpire B. Grant of striking Richmond forward Royce Hart.

West played his last League game on Saturday. The Geelong full-back conducts a hotel at Stawell, and he intends to play with the local club next season. Richmond’s premiership win goes much deeper than efforts produced on the field by players on Saturday. The first seeds of this premiership were sown in 1964, when the late Len Smith changed the pattern of Richmond’s teamwork.

Paddy Guinane gets to grips with Geelong’s Geoff Ainsworth during the 1967 grand final.Credit:The Age Archives

Switch to MCG

Then came the big switch of headquarters to the MCG, and once they had settled in the Tigers concentrated on securing big, fast recruits to suit the football needs of the big ground.

As Saturday’s win proved, the Tigers have succeeded well, and the two prime forces in topping off the team are coach Tom Hafey, a quietly spoken but fiercely determined man, and untiring secretary Graeme Richmond.

When something had to be done, they simply set out to get the results in the shortest possible time, and if tough decision had to be made they were tackled without any show of sentiment. Neville Crowe lost the Richmond captaincy this season; then there was the disciplinary action in standing down Bill Barrot after he had criticised the club, and finally the bold decision to regroup the team late in the season.

Swift was a case in point.

Late in the season the selectors decided the full-back position was not being filled to their satisfaction, so Mick Erwin was dumped and Swift, a half-forward flanker and ruck rover, took over.

Swift’s success against Carlton in the second semifinal, and again in holding crack Geelong forward Doug Wade to four goals on Saturday, proved the wisdom of the move.

Swift showed coolness and steadiness all day, particularly when he marked a kick from Geelong rover Bill Goggin close to the line minutes before the siren.

Moved fast

Geelong was 10 points down at the time, and Swift covered a lot of distance to get to the ball and hold a mark. Had he failed to get there it would have been a goal.

Spurred on by that success, Geelong might have built up another frenzied effort to have carried out another last-minute attack.

Some Geelong players, and particularly captain Polly Farmer, were emphatic that Swift did not save the goal.

Farmer declared that Swift marked the ball after it had passed the goal line, but whether he did or not, no one is ever going to know.

The goal umpire said not, and as far as Richmond and Swift are concerned that is all that matters.

The great thing about the game was that it was climaxed by a last quarter of continuous nerve-wracking excitement as both teams struggled desperately to get on top.

It began with Richmond leading by two points. Then four times the sides were level, and more than once each won and lost what looked like deciding advantages.

In the end it was not anything specific that decided that Richmond was going to take the premiership.

The Tigers got the run of the ball at the right time, umpire Sheales saw fit to penalize Geelong in one or two decisions and a couple of telling kicks went through for goals.

Great Goals

When goals were hard to get 6 ft. 5 in. John Ronaldson kicked two magnificent ones, yet Geelong’s last four scoring shots, not counting Bill Goggin’s marked kick, produced only four points. It was as simple as that.

To that stage Ronaldson had done little all day, and it was ironic that his first goal, from about 50 yards out, almost from the boundary line, was meant to be a kick to position.

He tried to land the ball somewhere in the square to give one of the high flyers a chance to take a mark, but the kick kept going and went through.

His second goal, seven minutes later, was from an angle just as acute.

Then rover Kevin Bartlett bounced out of a pack, blindly but perfectly, and with no one between him and the goals, popped the ball through virtually to sew up the game for the Tigers.

But the point must not be overlooked is that Richmond had the determination to come back hard and grasp its chances.

When a side does this no one can rightly begrudge it its good fortune.

It is also well to remember that the Tigers were never behind at the end of any quarter of the match.

The big thing that counted all day for Richmond was that in midfielder Bill Barrot, it had a brilliant kick winner who never ceased to keep the Geelong defence under pressure.

Richmond also had an outstanding forward in Royce Hart, and once it settled down, was able to depend on a fairly formidable defence.

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