by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Just after Round Ten, the AFL held its Hall of Fame Function in Canberra to induct six new members and elevate a current member to Legend status. Richmond champion Royce Hart, one of the original inductees in 1996, was elevated to Legend status. He is the 25th player to receive the honor. Hart played 188 games and kicked 371 goals 1967-1977. He was a star center half forward and played in the club's 1967, 1969, 1973 and 1974 Premierships. He captained the club 1972-1975 and led the goal kicking in 1967 and 1971. He won the club Best and Fairest 1969 and 1972. Other honors: Victorian representative in 11 games, All-Australian 1969, AFL Team of the Century (1996), Richmond Team of the Century and Tasmanian Team of the Century. He also coached Footscray (now Western Bulldogs) 1980-1982.
Despite ill health, Hart attended the dinner and described his elevation as an honor and a privilege. In speaking of his career, he made a reference to the now famous story of how he was recruited to the Tigers for the price of a new suit and six shirts after him mom told a Tiger secretary that Royce would need some new clothes to find a decent job in Melbourne. Hart joked that in today's game, he probably would have been given a whole factory. He also joked about the controversial biography he wrote when he was just 22. In the book, he named players to a team he would like to play with and named himself at center half forward. After publication, journalist and fellow Hall of Fame member Alf Brown wrote, 'Royce Hart is not taking as many marks these days, because he can't get his arms above his enormous head.'"
Upon debut at the age of 19, Hart kicked three goals against Essendon. After just seven senior games, he kicked seven goals playing for Victoria. Seven goals against Geelong in the final round and six against Carlton in a semi-final confirmed Hart as a star. Coach Tom Hafey came up with a simple game plan - "kick it to Hart". Hart did not disappoint. He kicked three goals in the 1967 Grand Final to help the Tigers defeat the Cats. He counts that Grand Final win as one of his fondest memories due tot he fact the club had not won a Premiership in 24 years.
In 1969, he was drafted for his National Service and trained with the Royal Australian Artillery in Adelaide. He was allowed to fly to Melbourne on the weekends to play with the Tigers and trained with SANFL club Glenelg. A week after he played in the Tigers Premiership, he was offered $2000 to play for Glenelg in the SANFL Grand Final. Glenelg's opponent Sturt was so incensed, their experienced hard men targeted Hart and he was concussed in the first term. Sturt went on to win the game by 65 points.
In 1973, Hart tore the cartilage in his left knee in Round 15 but still managed to return and kick five goals against Carlton in a Qualifying Final loss. Afterwards, he had to have fluid drained from the knee but still starred the following week in a Semi-Final win against St Kilda. He was relegated to the bench for the Preliminary Final against Collingwood until half time when the Magpies led by six goals. Hart kicked only two goals himself but set up numerous other scoring chances for the Tigers who eventually came back to win by seven points. He followed it up with three goals in Richmond's Grand Final victory.
He was plagued with knee problems late in his career and was forced to retire at the age of 29 halfway through the 1977 season. He coached Richmond's reserves team in 1979 before taking on the Bulldog job. He has lived back in Tasmania for the past 20 years but still keeps in touch with his former coach Tom Hafey, whom he described as a father figure. Hart was also a frequent attendee at Richmond and AFL functions until ill health restricted his travel. In speaking of the Tigers, he said 1974 was a long time ago and he would love to see Richmond win another Premiership and "get the monkey off their back". Richmond's last Grand Final win was in 1980.
The six new inductees are Melbourne's Hassa Mann, Bulldog Scott West, SANFL star RIck Davies,. Essendon's Matthew Lloyd, West Australian Brian Peake and long-serving umpire Bryan Sheehan.
Melbourne, 178 games 1958-1968, 193 goals
South Fremantle, 1969-1971, 62 games
Victorian representative, 8 games, 11 goals
Melbourne Premiership, 1959, 1960, 1964
South Fremantle Premiership, 1970
Melbourne Best and Fairest, 1962, 1963, 196
South Fremantle Best and Fairest, 1969
Melbourne leading goal kicker, 1967, 1968
Melbourne captain, 1965-68
All Australian, 1966
Christened Harold Peter, the nickname Hassa started when his younger brother could not say Harold. As an untried teenager from northwest Victoria, Mann rejected offers of new cars from Richmond and Geelong to join Melbourne. While an ill-fitting pair of new boots is a far cry from a new car, it was the lure of playing for a champion team and at the MCG which attracted Mann. By the time he turned 18, he had already played in two premierships. Mann had a leading role in the Demons' 1964 triumph. He kicked a freakish match-winning goal from the boundary against Hawthorn in Round 17, then had 24 kicks and 10 marks in the Grand Final against Collingwood.
In Round Nine 1967, Demon coach Norm Smith gave Mann the job of stopping champion Swans rover Bob Skilton. In an ironic twist, Skilton was also told to nullify Mann. It was the on ball battle between rival captains, both of whom were champions at the height of their careers. Mann may well be the only one who got the best of Skilton. That day, he was a tireless ball winner and kicked a career-high seven goals to Skilton's two. He played in a state game two weeks later and suffered a broken foot. Up until then he had been leading most of the media awards but the injury restricted him the rest of the season. He still finished fifth in the Brownlow count with 12 votes, one vote ahead of Skilton.
Mann, 72, said he was "incredibly fortunate" to have joined the Demons during their golden era and to have been coached by Smith, the greatest influence on his football and business careers. Mann modestly questions whether he would have been inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame had he gone to another club, saying it was easier to play in a top side than in a struggling. He is also humble about his play saying "I think my achievements exceeded my ability." He finally admitted he was consistent although he is still surprised that he twice won the club's best and fairest award over Ron Barassi.
A contractual dispute with the Demons prompted Mann to cross to South Fremantle as coach in 1969. He returned to Melbourne to coach the under-19's and later became a club director. He was the Demons CEO 1992-1997. Asked about the club's current plight, Mann said he was saddened by it. He said he was dismayed knowing he was a member of the club's last premiership side and did not foresee a quick turnaround. It is not the first time he has seen a crisis at the club. He remembers the day Smith was controversially fired as coach and visiting the Smith home after receiving the phone call. He said Smith, his wife and brother Len, were all in tears. Smith was reinstated just days later, but Mann said it did affect the club. He was club CEO in 1996 when then president Ian Ridley decided the Demons should merge with Hawthorn. Mann said it was one of the toughest times of his life and cost some friendships. Demon members voted in favor but Hawthorn voted against it. Mann admitted he was glad the merger did not happen.
Footscray/Western Bulldogs, 1993-2008, 324 games, 104 goals
Brownlow runner-up, 2000, 2006
Best and Fairest 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003-2005
Best and Fairest runner-up 2001, 2006
All-Australian 1998, 2000, 2004-2006
International Rules, 1999, 2000
Rising Star nominee, 1993
Western Bulldogs Team of the Century
West began his career with the Bulldogs as a 15 year old and went on to become one of the most prolific ball winners of the past 40 years. Little wonder as he himself admitted he was "relentless" in his preparation and prided himself on winning the hard ball and getting it to teammates. On four occasions, he topped 40 possessions and once picked up 45 in a 2006 win against Adelaide. He was equally prolific when required to take a turn across half back. His former coach Terry Wallace said West's performances rarely dropped below a seven out of 10 rating.
West revealed he came very close to joining Collingwood, at the time on the rise under Mick Malthouse. The prospect of playing alongside Nathan Buckley, Scott Burns and Paul Licuria would have been great according to West. However the bond he felt with the Bulldogs was stronger and he decided to remain loyal. Although happy to be a one club player, he does regret never having the chance to play in a Grand Final and still feels the pain of the missed opportunity in 1997 when the Dogs gave up a 23 point lead to eventual Premier Adelaide in the Preliminary Final. West was just 22 at the time and was one of the Dogs' best. To this day, he cannot bring himself to watch a replay. He said he now enjoyed watching his children play and quipped, I'm a dual under-10 division four premiership runner, so I do have a premiership to my name". West is currently the senior coach at VFL club Werribee, which is aligned with North Melbourne.
In speaking with SEN's Mark Fine on the night, he dispelled a myth about his once remarking that he collected best and fairest awards. Campbell Rose had just joined the club as CEO and was not familiar with the players. He was walking through the rooms at Etihad Stadium and came across West. He asked West what he did at the club and West told him he was one of the players. Afterward, teammate Scott Wynd, who had overheard the exchange, told West he should have said "I collect best and fairest awards:".
Sturt, 317 games 1970-80 and 1982-84, 635 goals
Hawthorn 1981, 20 games, 37 goals1985-87, 33 games, 146 goals
20 games for South Australia
Sturt Premiership 1974, 1976
Sturt Best and Fairest 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980
Sturt leading goalkicker, 1982, 1983, 1984
South Adelaide leading goalkicker, 1985, 1986
All Australian 1979, 1980 (captain)
South Adelaide coach, 1985-87
Sturt coach, 1989
Sturt Team of the Century
SA Football Hall of Fame inductee (2002).
At 188 cm tall (6'1"), Davies was not the tallest ruckman of his time, but he was very agile and quick and was able to use that and the rules of the time to his advantage. He came to Sturt just after their streak of five consecutive premierships, but played in the 1974 and 1979 victories. He said it was great to defeat Port Adelaide because Port was favored to win and he enjoyed rubbing it in. He then quipped that Port had the last laugh by winning another 13 premierships. Davies had signed an agreement with Hawthorn at the age of 24 but remained in South Australia for the next five years partly to help out on the family farm after his father suffered a heart attack and partly because he could not say no to his coach at Sturt, Jack Oatey. He now says he should have gone to the Hawks sooner.
Despite bad knees, Davies still managed 20 games and 37 goals - second only to Leigh Matthews - and 203 hit outs behind Don Scott's 323 in his only season with the Hawks. He returned to Sturt for another three seasons before crossing to South Adelaide as playing coach, replacing his former Hawk teammate Don Scott. He moved to West Australia for business reasons in 2000 but still follows Sturt and the Hawks as best he can.
He watched on with some envy as fellow South Australians Graham Cornes (father to Kane and Chad), Peter Carey and Russell Ebert were inducted. He said, "I suppose you see the other guys get in and you hope it can happen to you in your lifetime. Now that it has, I'm humbled and honored."
Source: afl.com.au, heraldsun.com.au, adelaidenow.com.au, sen.com.au
Article last changed on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 4:20 PM EDT