112. Michael Roach

VFL 1979 - Richmond v HawthornLEGEND – Player Inductee

Longford/Richmond, Full Forward/Ruck, 1975-1989

> 200 games, 607 goals, Richmond, 1977-89
> Won Richmond’s goal kicking seven times, including a new club record of 112 in 1980
> Won the Coleman Medal for leading VFL/AFL goal kicker, 1980 and 1981
> Richmond senior premiership, 1980
> Richmond Life Member, 1986
> Represented Tasmania in 1979, 1980 and 1988
> Named in the 1979 All-Australian team
> Michael Roach Medal presented to Richmond’s leading goal kicker
> Played 46 senior games with Longford
> Represented NTFA and Tasmania, 1976

Michael Roach, who is universally known as ‘Disco’, is best remembered for his long, accurate kicking for goal, strong marking and his reign as the best forward in Australian football in the early 1980s. The second of a quartet of key forwards recruited by Richmond from Tasmania—preceded by Royce Hart and followed by Matthew Richardson and Jack Riewoldt—Roach was an enormously popular player whose career was interrupted by injury but still saw him ranked amongst the Tigers’ great forwards.

As a junior player at Westbury in Tasmania Roach won state representation and was selected to play senior football for Longford in 1975, aged only 16. He impressed by winning the club’s goalkicking award in his two seasons and was selected to represent both the league and Tasmania.

When he arrived at Richmond for the 1977 season Roach was tall with a well developed physique and was particularly mobile and agile for his size. His first two seasons were curtailed by development and injury, but in 1979 under new Tigers coach Tony Jewell he further strengthened his big frame with the lure of the regular full forward position beckoning.

Royce Hart tutored the right-footed Michael Roach in the art of kicking the long, accurate drop punt, and so it was that Roach took the game by storm in the opening half of the 1979 season. To his brilliant contested marking he added an excellent lead and was a revelation when shooting for goal, rarely missing. Capable of goaling from a long way out, Roach raised standards among key forwards by regularly employing his non-preferred foot when kicking and often handballing to a teammate in a better position even when within scoring range.

In 1980, with Richmond heading toward the record for the highest aggregate in a season, Roach was the key to the Tigers’ attack. Scoring eleven goals in one game and twice booting ten, he surged toward his century of goals for the season—an achievement not seen in the club since Jack Titus in 1940. The milestone was reached two games before the finals against Melbourne at the MCG. Richmond went into the finals placed third and won three finals in a row to take their tenth premiership. Roach was a premiership player and set a still-unbeaten club record of 112 goals for the year.

Continuing this form the next year, Roach won the inaugural Coleman Medal for the VFL’s highest goalkicker during the regular season. However, his 86 goals failed to lift the Tigers into the finals in a disappointing follow-up to the flag.

In 1982 Richmond played Roach around the ground, including the ruck. Richmond finished the home-and-away season on top for the first time in eight years. In the semi-final against Carlton Roach was switched to centre half forward at the start of the game, catching the Blues off-guard, and he was a great player in a strong win. In the grand final, however, the Blues turned the tables in an inspired effort and took the premiership in a classic
Blues-Tigers battle.

For the ensuing two seasons Roach played in the ruck and around the ground as the Tigers struggled with their playing structures and also on the field. Upon returning to the key forward position in 1985, Roach enjoyed one of his finest seasons. He equalled his career-best effort by booting 11 goals against Hawthorn, and scored eight of the team’s 11 goals in a grudge match with Collingwood late in the year. Although the Tigers struggled badly both seasons, Roach managed 80 goals in 17 games in 1985 and 62 goals in 20 games in 1986.

Throughout the 1990s Michael Roach served the Tigers in off-field specialist coaching roles and was a visible supporter of the ‘Save Our Skins’ campaign of 1989–1990 which saved the club from bankruptcy. Roach was inducted into the Richmond Football Club Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

In 2004 he was selected in the Tasmania Team of the Century.