By Anthony Probert
THE emotion of Richmond’s drought-breaking AFL premiership win last Saturday was too much to hold back for rusted-on Tigers supporters Professor of Aboriginal Studies Len Collard and his wife Lisa.
The pair were in Albany for the weekend and were overwhelmed as they celebrated the Tigers’ 48-point win over the Adelaide Crows at Six Degrees bar.
While the Tigers’ last premiership in 1980 was in the back of most fans’ minds throughout the day, it was the recollection of Richmond’s defeat at the hands of Carlton in 1982 that spilled over into tears for the Collards.
Prof Collard’s brother-in-law, the late Maurice Rioli, won the Norm Smith medal in that match and was the first player in VFL history to be awarded the best-on-ground in a losing side.
Prof Collard recalled Rioli’s response to the agony of losing the grand final, but winning the heralded Norm Smith.
“We were all there at his house, and when Maurice got home after that battle against Carlton, he took the medal off his neck and threw it in the fire,” an emotional Prof Collard recalled.
“He was so pissed off that he was the best player on the ground, but lost the grand final. That medal wasn’t enough. It just wasn’t enough.”
Prof Collard said the Tigers victory on Saturday was “a family thing”, with the Rioli name continuing its contribution, with great-nephew Daniel Rioli lining up for Richmond.
“It is so important to us,” he said.
“Maurice set the precedent for Tiwi Islanders, and to have young Dan and Cyril following in the footsteps of their uncle and continue the Riolis’ contribution to Australian Rules Football is very special.”