Michael Forster Patterson
7 January 1941
16 April 2002 (aged 61)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 171d
Last game: 28y 228d
Height and weight
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 96 kg
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Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only
Memorably dubbed 'Swamp Fox' by Lou Richards, apparently because 'he reckoned that when I was in a pack there'd always be a couple of bodies strewn beneath me'¹, Mike Patterson was a doggedly resolute ruckman who played 152 VFL games for Richmond between 1959 and 1969. His finest two hours in a black and yellow jumper came when he deputised to telling effect for suspended team mate Neville Crow in the 1967 Grand Final against Geelong. Opposed by legendary ruckman 'Polly' Farmer, Patterson performed heroically to stymie the 'Big Cat's' impact and make a sterling contribution to his team's nine-point victory.
In 1970, Patterson crossed to North Adelaide as captain-coach, and over the next couple of seasons, he gradually introduced a heightened level of toughness to the Roosters' game, transforming them from a flamboyantly talented but ultimately vulnerable final four proposition to back to back premiers in 1971 and 1972. A VFL side in all but name, North also famously secured the Australian club championship under Patterson's guidance with a stirring one-point win over Carlton in 1972.
Playing spasmodically through 1972 and 1973, he coached North Adelaide to another grand final in 1973 only to fall seven points short against Glenelg, Patterson retired as a player, but stayed on as non-playing coach of the club for another two years. He was considerably less effective in this capacity, however, his task made all the more difficult with the knee injury suffered by his star player, Barrie Robran.
In 1978 he was enticed back to the VFL to coach St Kilda where, after an impressive first year, the wheels fell off in 1979 and the club 'won' the wooden spoon. The recruitment of reigning Carlton premiership captain-coach Alex Jesaulenko for the 1980 season sealed his fate and Patterson was replaced after several rounds. A sojourn at VFA club Frankston (1981-1983) was followed by a one-year unsuccessful stint back at Richmond in 1984.
In 2001, shortly before his premature death, Mike Patterson, the first Victorian to steer an SANFL club to a premiership, was selected as coach of North Adelaide's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.
Author - John Devaney
1. Patterson quoted in North Adelaide's Greatest by the North Adelaide Football Club History Committee, page 61.