Previous Clubs: Yarra Juncton F.C, De La Salle College School Teams and St. Ignatius F.C.
Date of Birth: 13/11/1913
John Raymond “Jack” DYER was a ruckman who became one of the greatest legends the game has known.
Born in Oakleigh, he played his early football at Yarra Junction before moving back to the city with his family in 1927. Jack then went to De La Salle College before finishing at St. Ignatius on Richmond Hill.
After winning the Metropolitan League Best and Fairest he was invited to try out with Richmond. He made his senior debut as 19th man in Round 2 of 1931 against North Melbourne. On that day, he sat on the bench until late in the game while watching Richmond full-forward Doug STRANG kick a club record of 14 goals. Jack, however, went out as a success, kicking 6 goals in his final match against Geelong in Round 19 of 1949. Although known for his ruggedness, he was a fine player who moved well around the ground, was a strong mark and an accurate kick.
He had fine anticipation, excellent judgment and was a great protector of his smaller teammates. An intelligent footballer, he was a fine palmer of the ball and he formed part of a great first ruck with Percy BENTLEY and Roy MARTIN. He was renowned for his bone jarring shirt=fronts which left many an opposition player bloodied, with broken bones or concussion.
In 1935, sports journalist John LUDLOW dubbed him “Captain Blood” after the Hollywood Legend of the time Errol FLYNN who was starring in a movie of the same name. The journalist reasoned that while FLYNN was cutting a swathe through Hollywood, Jack was doing similar things on the football field. In 1931, he played in Richmond’s Grand Final team that was defeated by Geelong. He was playing excellent football in the early part of 1932 before being struck down by a knee injury that caused him to miss half a season and a chance to play in the Premiership side. After sustaining this injury, he always wore a bandage around his knee. He attributed this injury to the fact that he became a straight-ahead type of player because it took away some of his mobility. Surprisingly, during his long career, the most consecutive games he played was 60 between 1945 and 1948. A human battering ram he was reported five times during his career for one 4-week suspension. Ironically that was for striking the son of legendary Collingwood Coach Jock McHALE in Round 11 of 1944.
Jack won the Club Best and Fairest award a record six times in 1932, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940 and 1946 as well as finishing third in 1943. The Richmond Football Club Best and Fairest award is named in honour of the service he gave to the club. Jack also won the “Champion of The Colony” award which comprised votes from newspaper sports journalists, in 1940, 1942 and 1943. He captained Richmond in 160 matches and he coached in a total of 225 games, for 134 wins, 2 draws and 89 losses. Richmond made the Finals five times during his reign, for one Premiership, two runners-up and two fourths. Jack was a member of the 1934 and 1943 Premiership sides as well as the 1931, 1933, 1949, 1942 and 1944 Grand Final teams.
His tally of 312 games currently places him in second position behind Kevin BARTLETT’s 403 games and his 23 Finals games has him in third position. He played 16 state games and was Victorian captain in 1941 and 1949. He was awarded Life Membership in 1940 and is also a Life Member of the VFL/AFL. In the latter part of his career, Jack moved to a forward-pocket where he caused many headaches for opposing backmen.
He won the Club Goalkicking award twice in his last three seasons and his career tally of 443 goals places him fifth on Richmond’s all-time greatest goalkickers’ list. Jack kicked 9 goals in the 1944 preliminary final against Essendon and this feat is still a club Finals’ record. The footballer image used at the start of Channel Nine’s Footy Show is taken from a photo of Jack as he was charging toward his ninth goal in that preliminary final. He scored 5 goals or more on 18 occasions.
Amazingly the first time he kicked 5 goals was in Round 8 of 1943 against North Melbourne when he was into his thirteenth season. With the exception of 1945 he kicked 30 or more goals in every season between 1940 and 1949. It was his move to the forward line that saw him invent the drop punt kick after struggling for accuracy whilst kicking with the punt kick.
Timing was always an important part of his game; however, in round 15 of 1946 this deserted him. Richmond were playing Footscray at the Punt Road Oval in a crucial match to decide a position in the four. By three quarter time Richmond trailed 7.17.59 to 13.13.91. A spirited rival saw the Tigers trial by seven points with only minutes remaining. Richmond went forward and the ball shot to Jack who ran into an apparently easy goal, but the ball slewed off the side of his boot for a point. Unbeknown to him the ball had been deflated after being punctured by a steel fence picket. Shortly after this “Mopsy” FRASER snapped a goal to level the scores, but Footscray’s Bill WOOD kicked their only goal of the last quarter to win the game, leaving Jack red faced and pondering what might have been. After retiring as a player and coach, he served on the Richmond Committee during the 1950s and 1960s as well as being heavily involved in recruiting.
Away from football, Jack has had several different occupations including a policeman, milk bar proprietor and hotelier. On his retirement form football he also became involved in the media with Channel 7 and as a radio commentator on 3UZ and 3KZ, between 1953 and 1991.
Jack was also a panelist on the old World of Sport and his verbal battles with Lou RICHARDS are well remembered by the football public. He still has a column in the Truth Newspaper. In 1966, he ran as the A.L.P candidate for the seat of Prahran, but was beaten by former St. Kilda footballer and champion Test Cricketer Sam LOXTON.
Jack was also involved in writing a book that was recently updated and aptly entitled “The Wild Men of Football.”
In 1996, he was inducted into the AFL’s Hall of Fame where he earned the status as one of only 12 “Legends of the Game.”
He was awarded the Order of Australia, “O.A.M,” for his services to football. He now lives on the Mornington Peninsula and recently showed he had lost none of his sporting prowess by scoring a hole in one during a round of golf. Jack also had the pavilion at Citizens Park in Richmond named in honour of his services to the Richmond Football Club and as longtime owner operator of local businesses. He is the father of John DYER.
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