From the moment guests entered the magnificent Savoy Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt to the sounds of the 1950s, they sensed this was going to be a special night. And when the Bobby Valentine Big Band hit up, the room positively lit up! But when the wonderful Wendy Stapleton hit the floor with her superb Dusty Springfield set, the dance floor positively rocked!
Celebrating 50 years is a significant achievement and the Richmond Former Players and Officials Association in conjunction with the Tommy Hafey Club, were determined this would be a memorable celebration.
FP&OA President Mike Perry welcomed guests and introduced former champion Benny Gale who spoke earnestly about the importance of a strong former player and official association to the health of the club.
What then followed was a the first of series of pre-recorded video interviews with former players and officials recalling their first impressions of Punt Road, career highs and lows and some very tall tales. Mal Brown’s account of the build up to his first game with the Tigers brought the house down as well as bringing back some wonderful memories of the great Graeme Richmond. The Whales training tricks and Ray Jordan’s national service exploits were very funny contributions.
Rex Hunt gave an inspired account of his most treasured memories of Tigerland, and made a special appeal to the present day players to embrace the proud history and tradition of the Richmond Football Club.
The food and wine were enjoyed by all and the Bobby Valentine Big Band continued to lure couples onto the dance floor.
The evening was punctuated by a live auction conducted by the incomparable Phil de Fegely, while the more sedate “silent” auction (organised by Michael Bourke from Memorabilia Magic) did steady business in the background.
The night was capped off by another super performance by Kevin Bartlett. Having called the Essendon Sydney game for SEN in Sydney that afternoon, KB had come straight to the Grand Hyatt from the airport to join the celebrations. And he was in cracking good form, entertaining everyone with his humorous anecdotes and recollections of his many years at Punt Road.
The party wound up for most at midnight, but not for all as reports continued to come in after the event of serious “kicking on” by some serious “players”. A night to remember it was indeed!
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