Kevin Charles Bartlett
6 March 1947 (age 76)
Place of birth
Carlton, VIC (3053)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 56d
Last game: 36y 174d
Height and weight
Height: 177 cm
Weight: 71 kg
State of origin
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
Top kick getter in VFL ranks this season ..... Would be the most courageous little man playing at the moment. Has given team tremendous service. Roves unchanged almost every week.¹
Often derided by opposition supporters as 'Hungry' owing to his alleged predisposition towards kicking for goal, regardless of the presence of unmarked team mates in better positions, whenever he was within range, the immensity of Kevin Bartlett's contribution to the Richmond Football Club over 403 VFL games in 19 seasons totally belied this assessment. Quite simply, coaches like Tom Hafey, Tony Jewell and Francis Bourke would not have persisted in picking Bartlett if he was in any sense a liability to the side.
Combining fleetness of foot with evasion skills of the highest order, Bartlett was able to keep his wispy frame comparatively free of danger in the hurly burly cauldron of league football for a longer period of time than any of his predecessors. Many times he was a marked man, with opposition sides setting out to stop him by any means possible, paying scant regard to the laws of the game in the process, but Bartlett almost invariably escaped unscathed. As for the opposition sides, 'KB' would gleefully, almost impishly, provide them with plenty of reasons for bemoaning their failure to impede him, with the scale of the damage wrought invariably directly proportionate to the importance of the game. Thus you will find the name of 'K.Bartlett' listed among the best players in the grand finals of 1967, 1969, 1972, 1973 (BOG), 1974, 1980 (Norm Smith Medallist) and 1982, while he also won a Winfield Medal as the best player in the 1974 Australian club championship series.
Perhaps the most persuasive testimony to his greatness, however, is that in what was almost incontrovertibly the greatest era in the history of the Richmond Football Club, Bartlett won the senior team's best and fairest award on no fewer than five occasions. During the period from 1967 to 1982 the only other multiple winners of the award were Geoff Raines (three) and Royce Hart (two).
Given this, it remains surprising that Kevin Bartlett did not fare especially well in the Brownlow. In 1974, he was one of the warmest favourites in recollection, but fell five votes short of winner Keith Greig, and one behind runner-up Gary Hardeman. The consternation felt by Richmond officials was, to put it mildly, ill-concealed. Perhaps the fact that Bartlett was never the most elegant presence on a football field beguiled umpires into under-estimating his importance and effectiveness, and it is certainly the case that, if football games were scored on the basis of 'artistic merit', Kevin Bartlett would have contributed little. In reality, however, football games are scored on the basis of goals and behinds, which directly accrue from attributes like courage (always first and foremost), determination, aggression, pace and skill - qualities with which Kevin Bartlett, for nigh on two decades, richly and distinctively adorned the game.
Author - John Devaney
1. “Football Record”, 29/9/73, page 9.