20 June 1915
2 September 2002 (aged 87)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 313d
Last game: 36y 101d
Height and weight
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 82 kg
Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only
'King Richard', as he was known was one of football's archetypal gentlemen - a much needed antithesis to the likes of Don 'Mopsy' Fraser, Leigh Matthews, Bob Chitty and 'Mad Mal' Brown. At 179 cm and 82 kg he was tall and quite heavily built for a rover and seldom came off second best in the physical exchanges. He was a fine high mark and possessed of supreme balance and ball handling ability, and although not the greatest kick he was dangerous near goals averaging well over a goal a game over the course of a 19-season, 320-game VFL career.
Later in that career Reynolds developed into an excellent half forward flank cum ruck-rover type who went a long way towards defining that role for future generations. Extreme fairness coupled with an indefatigable brilliance ensured that 'King Richard' attracted a significant amount of attention - of the right sort - from the men in white: he was one of just two Victorians (and indeed only four players in total) to win three Brownlow Medals, polling a career total of 154 votes (eighth on the all time list). He was also the quintessential team man and leader, captain-coaching the Dons to two premierships, and skippering the Big V in six of his 19 interstate appearances. His leadership qualities remained in evidence after his retirement as a player as he guided Essendon to two further flags before embarking on a less successful three-season stint as coach of West Torrens.
Several years after Reynolds' retirement as a player one of his most illustrious contemporaries, the great Haydn Bunton senior, paid him this fulsome tribute:
In my estimation Dick stood out shoulder high as the best footballer ever to pull on a boot during the years I played in Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. When his turn came to captain Essendon, Dick soon demonstrated that he was a great leader as well as a great footballer. He never had to shout at his players. He showed them by example and led them out of many possible defeats to victory. He was a big rover and therefore was a better high mark than was thought. In the air he stretched up. On the ground he had the greatest gift a rover can have, the ability to play low, gather the ball and sweep through and on without the opposition having a chance to up-end him. The man who plays the ball low does not have to contend with crazy bounces. He nips off the bounce and gains at least half a yard in pace. For a big man, Dick was an expert at playing low. I have seen better foot passers than Dick, but he was a wizard at handpassing. He was deadly with a shot from 30-40 yards out. He might have been weaving in circles, but on gaining the ball he straightened up and, facing the goal squarely, seldom missed.¹
Author - John Devaney