Richmond's first VFL flag
Playing with invincible dash and determination Richmond won the premiership and their first pennant on Saturday, and Richmond's victory was the proper and popular crown to it. They won in both phases of the tournament, and in neither with very much to spare. As so often happens with the grand finals, the attendance fell away slightly, the number present being 53,908 and the gate £2,535.
Both sides were equally hampered in the absence of their champion goal-kickers, Lee and Bayliss, and on turf just perfect for football Richmond had the best end for a start, as a breeze of some help, but which rather died out towards the end of the match, was blowing into the main gate goal.
There was a stern five minutes struggle before the first point was scored. Quick dashes by Hede and Carew brought Richmond first into range, and just as determinedly Brown and Pannam answered for Collingwood. Wetherall's rush reached the outside range but the shot scored nothing, and Twomey came into notice for Collingwood. Both Hislop and Hall were prominent men in Richmond's colours for a while, but it was Moffat, giving most of his time and energy to the baulking of Hughes in the Magpie ruck, who broke in by the Richmond wing and gave James the chance to score first point. Collingwood squared matters immediately—Twomey helping Coventry to the scoring chance, but only a gain of a point.
Playing with more method, though less dash than their rivals, Collingwood maintained the pressure for a while, and Hislop and Smith in turn had to do their very best amongst Richmond's defenders to hold back the charges. Pace was developing quickly and determination went with it. Lumsden, the cool and dangerous, had a free kick at nice distance for Collingwood, and punted their first goal. Cool and quick play by Pannam and Rowe gave Wilson a clever mark in a crush, but it was a sharp angle shot and a miss. Minogue, the Richmond captain, was first to bring his second ruck into action, and, noticing it, Lumsden immediately ordered in his reliefs. In some dashing wing play a soaring mark by Wetherall stood out as something more than usually dazzling, though James, Hall, and Carew were fine thereabout, and a snap from Carew that went through at short range missed the goal only by a touch.
The game was a cracker, and still increasing, with Richmond always forcing, but two tries by Don were needed to get their first goal. The first kick was marked by Brown close to the posts; the second, after a bitter struggle, went true from a punt. They were going at an amazing pace when the bell rang, the scores being even with 1.2 for each.
Moffat and Don led Richmond's next assault, and James, although badly placed almost on the line, got Richmond's second goal. The high-mark was the shining point of play, and Hislop was cheered for one of the best. Richmond played splendidly then; everywhere they had Collingwood beaten except on the back lines, and there sturdy little Dobrigh especially led a defence in style worthy of their old stalwart Monahan in his best days.
Passing often in Collingwood's own particular style left to right, but always onward, Richmond came repeatedly to outside range, to be stopped and turned there, Brown, Coleman, Saunders, and Dobrigh making a wall with no gap in it. Richmond from tremendous exertions gained nothing—the point was would they tire under such a strain. Once in their occasional break through Curtis had a chance for Collingwood, but a long kick was marked by James, who was playing everywhere. Once there was an exciting struggle within five yards of Collingwood's goal—a dozen players in a crush, yet no Richmond man could get his toes on the ball, and half-time saw Richmond 2.5 to Collingwood's 1.2.
And with the opening of the third quarter there was still no relief for Collingwood, first Brown then Tyson putting forth their best to stop those perpetual rushes on their goal. From the centre Don streamed forward to shooting distance, but his shot was quite astray. Then a dazzling wing rush, with James and Don chiefly prominent, led up to the long-fought-for goal, Harley putting the ball through.
Since early in the opening quarter Collingwood had not moved a flag, but a free kick to McCarthy was their turning point and, following up the effort, Sheehy had a long shot which went very close. Rivalry in the rucks had been over keen—twice Elder had to whistle the ball out of play and give the excited players a chance to collect their senses—yet there was no suspicion of ill temper or petty spite, only an over eagerness that scorned the consequences.
Richmond kept up the relentless pressure, and just as resolutely Collingwood maintained their really brilliant defence. Once relief and hope came to them as Lumsden got a free kick just a trifle over his range. It was a fine shot, and not far astray. Richmond had a favourite wing—their own town side—and along that flank they played dazzling football, Hall being always on the watch to help.
Next time Collingwood got through there was a great crush, but Coventry came into possession, and with one of his fine punts scored their second goal. Next moment their backs were being bent as usual, but rarely broken, for Dobrigh and Drummond in turn took the ball out with grand dashes. In another of Richmond's wing rushes Hall was again the cool and conspicuous factor, sharing the exchanges with Herbert. The end of it was a difficult chance to Don from the boundary line, and Richmond's fourth goal.
Almost immediately Coventry wiped out that gain—another of his splendid punts getting Collingwood's third goal, so at the last change Richmond, for all their manful struggling, had still only the equivalent of a goal and a half to the good in a score of 4.7 to Collingwood's 3.4.
Called up for the last struggle of the season, Richmond were the first to get through. Carew and Don giving Wetherall a chance which missed. All at once Collingwood were attacking, Dobrigh, as usual started the rush, Rowe carried it on, and Wilson tried to dash right home, but came to grief. In the next demonstration Hall of Richmond was again active, but once more Dobrigh stood in the way of success.
Then, in a few brief but dazzling moments, the game was won. One of Hislop's desperate rushes took the ball finally within range, and Don kicked their fifth goal. It was no sooner in play than Richmond, keeping up their pace wonderfully, had it forward and Wetherall, dashing into a good position, scored sixth goal. The ground rang with cheering, for Richmond were certain winners then.
Yet Collingwood's hopes died slowly; there was no throwing up the sponge. Pannam led one of their rushes, but Wilson missed the shot. Drummond, who had forged up towards goal took a try, but did no better—the pressure was at the Richmond end. In the next Collingwood rally Pannam and Curtis passed the ball on, and Sheehy scored their fourth goal.
In the moments of suspense that followed Don twice missed possible chances for Richmond, then a charge with Laxton, Hughes and E. Wilson operating, was stopped just out of range. In the answering rush Hall, Hughes, and Wetherall were the champions for Richmond, but Don again missed the scoring chance. Streaming around the wing their next rush closed with a goal to W. James, and just as the bell rang Coventry had whipped another through for Collingwood, the finals being:—
Richmond: 7 goals, 10 behinds (52 points),
Collingwood: 6 goals, 5 behinds (35 points)
Richmond had many fine players, but none of greater value than Hislop, Hugh James and Hall. Next to Hislop, Smith was their finest defender, though it only needed a few more goals from his many tries to make Don the star of the match, for his play outfield was first rate. In spite of one or two mistakes Wetherall did uncommonly well. These half-dozen were far ahead of all others, though as a side Richmond was at its best.
Collingwood's champion on the day was distinctly Dobrigh, who has never done better. Brown was a good second to him, but a better more reliable lot of backs has seldom been seen in action. Although McCarthy and others toiled manfully in the ruck Collingwood were beaten there, Hughes being simply hustled out of action by Moffat on every opportunity. Pannam, Twomey, P. Wilson, Laxton, and Drummond were others distinguished.
As umpire Elder showed his customary judgment on the big occasions, and wisely shut his eyes to all trivial or nominal breaches of rule.
Celebrating the victory
All Richmond was en fete on Saturday night. The members of the team were taken in motor-cars to St Kilda, and entertained at dinner. Subsequently they were driven back to Melbourne, and made several trips up and down Bourke street through cheering crowds. Then they returned to Richmond.
A halt was made at the town hall where the football club flag was flying. Two thousand people watched the players salute the flag and listened to speeches by the players, who then adjourned to the club rooms, where a trophy for the most useful player was, by a vote of the players, awarded to the captain Dan Minogue. Yesterday morning there were further demonstrations at the Richmond cricket ground, and speeches were made by players, office-bearers, and officials.
Title: The football final.
Publisher: The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria: 1848-1957)
Date: Monday, 4 October 1920, p.7 (Article)
Note: The match photos shown above were sourced from The Australasian, 9 October, 1920.
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