Royce Desmond Hart
10 February 1948 (age 74)
Place of birth
Hobart, TAS (7000)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 19y 64d
Last game: 29y 156d
Height and weight
Height: 187 cm
Weight: 86 kg
State of origin
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To many observers (including probably himself¹), Royce Hart was the living embodiment of the ideal centre half forward. Certainly few players in the history of the game have managed to weld supreme natural ability and resolute determination to such telling effect. The determination saw Hart - on the face of it far from the finished article as a footballer - leave Tasmania as a 17-year-old in 1965 to try his luck in the 'big time' with Richmond. At the time it was more usual for non-Victorian players to serve out apprenticeships in their own local competitions before embarking on VFL careers, but throughout his football career Royce Hart seldom did things according to accepted guidelines or standards.
Hart enjoyed a dream VFL debut season in 1967 when, playing at the goal front, he was a near unanimous choice as rookie of the year, kicking 55 goals, representing his adopted state, and playing in Richmond's first premiership team for 24 years. There were to be no second season blues either: Royce Hart maintained an amazing consistency throughout most of the remainder of his 187-game league career, even in 1976 and '77 when his knees had virtually 'gone'.
In 1969, under a special lease arrangement, he played one SANFL game for Glenelg - the Grand Final, against Sturt. However, he was unable to prevent the Double Blues from winning comfortably². (Hart had been training with Glenelg for most of the 1969 season while undertaking National Service duties in Adelaide.)
Captain of the Tigers between 1972 and 1975, Hart played representative football for the VFL 11 times, won the Richmond best and fairest award twice, and was a member of four premiership teams. There have been few more reliable marks or dynamic all round players in the history of the game.
Hart's exploits as a coach, however, were infinitely less noteworthy: in two and a bit seasons in charge at Footscray during the early '80s he failed to steer the Bulldogs above 10th place in a 12 team competition.
In June 2004, Royce Hart was named at centre half forward in the official Tasmanian 'Team of the Century'. Hardly surprisingly, he occupies the same position in Richmond's equivalent team. In 2006, he was inducted as an icon into Tasmanian Football's official Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996 and elevated to 'legend' status in 2013.
Author - John Devaney, with updates by Andrew Gigacz
1. See The Royce Hart Story pp. 72-77 in which Hart (then aged just 22) selects himself at centre half forward in his 'Team to Beat All'.
2. Hart had been training with Glenelg for most of the 1969 season while undertaking National Service duties in Adelaide.