The Raines Conspiracy

The year 1980 will always hold a special place in the hearts of Richmond supporters.

Michael Roach kicked a ton that year, and Kevin Bartlett would add 84 goals to his name as well, providing Richmond with a one-two punch rarely matched. Bartlett also proudly accepted the Norm Smith Medal. To cap it all off, Richmond captain, Bruce Monteath stood on the podium on that last day in September; his wide smile accentuated by his still-present mouthguard, and hoisted the premiership cup high. But there was one award that slipped away from a Tiger that season.

Bulldog full forward, Kelvin Templeton took home the Brownlow Medal in 1980, capping off his third consecutive high-quality season in front of goal.  He bagged 75 goals – quite a few less than his previous tallies of 118 in 1978, and 91 in 1979, but his work further afield was noticed. The Footscray spearhead tallied 23 votes, to finish 3 clear of Essendon’s Merv Neagle. Incredibly, for the rest of his 12 year career, Templeton only polled a total of 21 votes.

To this day, the failure of Geoff Raines to poll a single vote remains a sore point for Tiger fans. Raines was the favourite leading into the count, and the Richmond team had been excellent all season, dropping only 5 games. The smooth moving centreman always looked classy on the field; his penetrating kick gave the damaging Tiger forwards every opportunity to score. Raines always appeared perfectly balanced as he ran through the middle of the ground. The way he played the game made it look effortless.

In a 2013 interview with The Age journalist, Jon Pierik, Raines pointed the finger of blame at former umpire Peter Cameron in regards to his Brownlow snub.  “Peter was very cunning,” said Raines in a 2013 interview. “You thought he was on your side, but he is on everyone’s side.”

Raines believes Cameron wielded heavy influence within the umpiring fraternity and had labelled him as both a sniper, as well as someone who back-chatted umpires, allegedly dissuading his fellow men in white from rewarding Raines’ on-field heroics with votes.

Though Cameron has never commented publicly on the issue, the claim was denied by fellow umpire of that era, Bill Deller.  “I didn’t even realise he didn’t get a vote,” said Deller. “I can’t remember a single umpire in the 20 years I was involved discussing votes. It wasn’t worth your spot on the list.”

Raines doubled-down in his interview with Mike Sheahan on Fox Footy’s Open Mike. “Obviously, they didn’t like me,” he said, referring to the men in white. He admitted to being a bit of a talker, but also said it was “reasonably embarrassing and may have been a bit pointed from the umpires.”

Does Raines actually have a case? His season was good enough to secure him one of his three Jack Dyer medals. That, particularly in a premiership year, is nothing to sneeze at. His style was eye-catching; certainly the sort of player that would garner the attention of anyone watching the game, but the Tigers had many star players in what was a golden era for the club.

There’s only one real way to know whether Raines was robbed in 1980, and that’s to look at the games themselves. Sadly, there is precious little access to home-and-away games in this era. All we have are statistics to shed some light on whether Raines deserved to be in contention for the medal or, at the very least, deserved some votes that year.

 

Having sorted through the available statistics for all 22 games in 1980, it is fair to say that Raines’ favouritism for the Brownlow may have been wishful thinking. However, receiving no votes at all is an inaccurate reflection of a very consistent year.

Statistics are only one way to measure performance, and it’s a measure that fails to capture the intricacies of the game. Achievements such as a defender completely dominating his duel with a star forward, or a “run-with” player getting the better of a star midfielder are both instances that cannot be measured with historical stats. Francis Bourke and Jim Jess both polled 8 votes each in 1980, but neither were prolific ball-winners. They performed their roles in the back half admirably, and their efforts did not go unnoticed.

Another factor that is worth mentioning is that players of all positions seemingly received higher vote totals in those days. Peter Moore won it in ’79 and two other ruckmen finished in the top 5. Forwards Terry Daniher, Mark McClure and Rene Kink all finished in the top 10 in 1979. Backmen, Ross Glendinning and Robbert Klomp finished highly as well. 1980 saw similar results, with ruckmen occupying 4 of the top 10 spots and Templeton winning the award as a forward. The Brownlow was yet to become the midfielder’s award that it now seems to be.

Should Raines have won the 1980 Brownlow? No, he shouldn’t have, and looking at the performances of his teammates on the days Raines did excel, it’s easy to see why. Should he have polled votes? Yes, he should’ve, but not a copious amount. Somewhere in the vicinity of 6-8 votes may have been a fair return for Raines, but there are some games that just had too many Richmond stars performing at their peak. It was not hailed as a golden age for the club based on a LACK of talent.

Raines was Richmond’s most consistent player for the year. He had 10 home and away games where he accumulated 25 or more touches. There were a couple of very high highs, and only a couple of lows, and this effort was rewarded by receiving the best and fairest at his club. Winning a Brownlow takes a little more than a good, consistent year – it takes a great year. While Raines may have had a couple of great games, he simply didn’t have enough.

 

GAME BY GAME BREAKDOWN

Round 1 – The Tigers dropped the Hawks by 5 points in the opener. Raines was good, collecting 19 touches and a goal, but there was stiff competition from Monteath with 22 and a goal, Robert Wiley with 23 and a goal, Barry Rowlings with 25 and a goal. Kevin Bartlett, who compiled 24 touches and added 4 goals that was most likely best man on the ground. For the Hawks, Leigh Matthews collected 27 touches and 2 goals. VERDICT – NO VOTES.

Round 2 – The Bombers got over the Tigers here by 7 points, so you’d expect they'd garner most of the votes. Tim Watson had 25 disposals, Fabulous Phil Carman added 2.4 to his 24 possessions, and Ian Marsh had 24 and a goal. For the Tigers, Roach kicked 7, so if one Tiger could sneak into the votes, it’d be ‘Disco’. Raines had 21 touches in the loss. VERDICT – NO VOTES.

Round 3 – A drawn game against St Kilda, so the votes would probably be split. Dale Weightman led the Tigers with 26 touches, and Wiley was right behind him with 25. Greg Burns had 29 and 2 goals for the Saints, whilst Dean Herbert snagged 5 goals straight. Raines amassed 21 touches. VERDICT – NO VOTES.

Round 4 – The Tigers hit their straps here, winning by 52 points over Collingwood. Weightman and Rowlings had 28 and 27 touches respectively, and also added a goal each. Mark Lee may have been the danger here; his 21 disposals and 34 hit outs would certainly catch the umpires’ eye. If not Lee, then David Cloke’s 5 goals might have. Raines would gather 25 touches that day, but would not add a goal to his stats. VERDICT – NO VOTES.

Round 5 – All Richmond here. They walloped Fitzroy by 118 points. At the time, this was the highest score ever conceded by the Lions. Raines was fantastic, picking up 37 disposals and kicking a goal. You’d think with those sorts of numbers that he’d be a shoe-in for votes, but there’s more to this statistical story. Rowlings racked up 30 disposals and 6 goals, reasonably securing him as the best on ground. David Cloke roamed across the half forward line, picking up 29 touches on his merry, moustached way, to go along with 3 goals, and Robert Wiley kicked 2 to go along with his 29 disposals. Bruce Monteath kicked 4.5 as well. It’s not out of the realms of possibility that, despite collecting that many touches, Raines was simply judged as the fourth best player on the ground. VERDICT – UNCERTAIN.

Round 6 – The Tigers managed to get by the Cats by 7 points here, so there could be a mix of votes. Wiley was again statistically impressive. He had 32 disposals and added a goal. Mark Lee finished with 27 touches to go along with 24 hitouts, while Raines had 23 touches. David Clarke of the Cats had 31 possessions and 2 goals, and Peter Featherby collected 26 whilst kicking 2.4. Either one of them could’ve squeezed Raines out of the votes.  VERDICT – NO VOTES

Round 7 – Another Tiger walloping, this time over the Bulldogs. The margin was 110 points, and there were a host of Richmond players finishing above 20 disposals, Raines being one. Roach was the standout. He kicked 11 goals from 22 disposals, and was amply aided by Wiley, who had 27 and 2 goals. Raines had 24 and added 2 goals into the mix, but he easily could’ve been overshadowed by Cloke (25 disposals), Dennis Collins (24), Jim Jess (21), Merv Keane (26 and a goal) or Bartlett (18 and 4 goals). VERDICT – UNCERTAIN.

Round 8 – Another Tiger win, this time by 53 points over Carlton. Raines had 29 disposals, but was completely blown away, firstly by Robert Wiley, who racked up 46 touches, then by Bartlett who snagged 7.4 to go along with his 21 disposals. Rowlings might be the one that pipped Raines at the post on this one, as he collected 30 disposals. VERDICT – FAIR TO SAY… NO VOTES

Round 9 – The Tiger machine kept rolling. Another big win, this time by 93 points over the Demons. Captain Monteath (great name for a pirate) kicked 8 goals and 29 disposals, Rowlings had 38 disposals and 3 goals, Cloke had 23 with 5 goals and Bartlett had 20 with 4 goals. Even without taking the aforementioned  numbers, Raines’ 29 touches would rank behind Robert Wiley’s 33 possessions. VERDICT – NO VOTES

Round 10 – The Tigers won again, but it’s a narrow margin over the Kangaroos. Possible split of the votes. Roach kicked 7 from 13 touches, which may put him in contention for votes, and Bartlett kicked 3 from his 23 disposals. Raines led the Tigers with 25 possessions, but may have been trumped in the votes by a North player, and if one man was going to bob up and steal votes, it’d be Gary Dempsey. Demps had 22 disposals and 9 marks to go along with 23 hit outs, winning his duel with Mark Lee.  VERDICT – 1 VOTE AT MOST.

Round 11 – If there is one game to argue in favour of Raines, this would be it. The Tigers cruised to a 53 point win over the Swans, with Raines leading all players with 31 possessions and a goal. Cloke might be the challenger here with 27 touches and 12 marks whilst spending time both forward and in the ruck, however Dennis Collins’ season-high 29 touches may have swayed the umps. The only arguments for any other players would be Weightman who collected 27 with 2 goals, and Rowlings with 26 and 2 goals. VERDICT – 2 VOTES.

Round 12 – The Tigers got past the Hawks again, this time by 20 points. Raines led his team in disposals with 26 but failed to hit the scoreboard. Weightman’s 25 and 2 goals might’ve stolen his thunder. Leigh Matthews had 33 and a couple of goals for the Hawks which may have seen him rewarded. Peter Russo was also good, with 30 touches and a goal. VERDICT – 1 VOTE

Round 13 – The Tigers got up by 10 over the Bombers. Cloke bagged 5 to go with his 26 touches, whilst Rowlings had 26 of his own to go with a goal. Bryan Wood managed to snare himself 27 disposals, while for Essendon, it’s hard to ignore Tim Watson’s 26 disposals and 2 goals, and Wayne Foreman’s 25 and 3 goals. Raines had 25 but again did not hit the scoreboard. VERDICT – NO VOTES

Round 14 – The Tigers squeezed by the Pies by 9 points. Weightman was the star, compiling 35 disposals, whilst Bartlett added 4 goals from his 19 disposals. For the first time all season, Raines failed to reach 20 disposals, ending on 19. Peter Moore (28 disposals and 18 hit outs) and Tony Shaw (32 and a goal) were both stars for the Pies. VERDICT – NO VOTES.

Round 15 – In an amazing turnaround from earlier in the year, Fitzroy stopped the Tiger train here, winning by 21 points. Garry Wilson had 33 touches for the Lions and Warwick Irwin had 28 disposals to go with his 2 goals. If a Tiger made the cut here, it’d be Weightman, who collected 34 disposals. Raines had only 16 possessions to his name. VERDICT – NO VOTES

Round 16 – Talk about bouncing back! The Tigers gave the Saints a 152 point hiding here. Roach kicked 10, Bartlett snagged 6 and the major possession winners were the returning Wiley (37), Cloke (32) and Weightman (26). Raines had 21. VERDICT  - NO VOTES.

Round 17 – The Cats upset the Tigers by 17 points. Raines had 20 disposals, but was still behind Wiley’s 25 and Terry Smith’s 21. The Cats would get the majority of the votes here – Terry Bright, Bruce Nankervis, Michael Turner and Peter Featherby were amongst a group of Geelong players to go over 20 possessions. VERDICT – NO VOTES.

Round 18 – A welcome return to form saw the Tigers belt the Bulldogs by 115 points. Raines had 35 disposals and a goal, but Roach’s 10 may have pushed him back a spot. Both Wiley and Weightman had 30 touches each, with the former adding a goal. If you’re looking at those four, Raines would have to be incredibly unlucky to miss out, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility. VERDICT – 1 VOTE.

Round 19 – Carlton got home against the Tigers by 21, with impressive performances by Greg Wells (31 and 3 goals) and Alex Marcou (26 and 1). Geoff Southby holding Roach to 1 goal would also have to be considered, making it difficult to see any Tiger getting more than the 1 vote. If pressed, that Tiger would be Weightman (23 and a goal) or Raines (22). VERDICT – NO VOTES

Round 20 – Raines had only 14 touches as the Tigers rebounded to win by 65 points over Melbourne. Roached bagged 9 goals, Bartlett 4.6, and Stephen Mount equaled Robert Wiley with 29 disposals. VERDICT – NO VOTES

Round 21 – The Tigers battled out a tough win over North Melbourne, with Raines collecting 28 disposals and a goal, second only to Ian Scrimshaw’s career-high 32 touches for the Tigers. On paper, it looks as though North Melbourne had better individual players. Dempsey haunted the Tigers again, compiling 18 disposals, 2 goals and 29 hit outs, Wayne Schimmelbusch had 34 disposals, and Malcolm Blight had 25 with 2 goals. Still, the Tigers won, and even with votes split due to the close margin, I can’t look past Raines for at least one vote here. VERDICT – 1 VOTE.

Round 22 – The Swans gave the Tigers a 9 goal belting to finish the home and away season. Raines had 24 touches to lead the Tigers, but there was no way he was getting votes in a lopsided loss. VERDICT – NO VOTES.