By Linda Pearce, August 25 2003, THE AGE
In the end, whatever emotion was generated by Saturday's passing of the legendary Dyer, aged 89, could not compensate for Richmond's chronic lack of skill. Coach Danny Frawley had played a video tribute before the team ran out, accompanied by Mike Brady's overblown Captain Blood anthem, but only the Tigers' endeavour was remotely adequate for such an occasion.
The club that Jack built has now lost 12 of its past 13 games, and caretaker captain Matthew Richardson was asked what Dyer would have made of yet another defeat, this one by 20 points. "Oh, look, I don't think you can question we had a crack," Richardson said. "I think he would have thought we did all right there, (but) obviously we made some bad skill errors which cost us goals and I don't reckon he would have been too happy with that."
The atmosphere, too, was strangely lacking. The Richmond banner, on which the cheer squad had worked through the night as the first of many public tributes to one of the game's immortals, was paraded before a puny crowd of 15,920. If Dyer's death was expected to be a rallying point for a late-season Tiger revival, it did not eventuate, in any sense.
"It's going to be a huge week for the Richmond Football Club this week," Frawley said, ahead of plans that include a memorial service and a minute's silence before Sunday's season-ender against Hawthorn at the MCG. "They don't come any bigger than Jack Dyer. We tried to pay respect to the Dyer name and club as best we could, but I really think next week will be the build-up for that. It was a bit of a shock for everyone over the last 24 hours."
Still, for a team that played so well, so early, this season, the official acknowledgment of Dyer's career appears to be coming a week too late. Richmond has suffered for the emotion harnessed in recent times by the Kangaroos and St Kilda, in Jason McCartney's return/farewell, and Nathan Burke's retirement, respectively, but could not do likewise when its turn came against a Port side determined to script its own happy finals ending.
"We have had a few of the more emotional games this year and it is Joel Bowden said. "Today we were thereabouts and it would have been great for all the Richmond people to have a win today, but unfortunately we weren't able to get over the line."
If respect for the club's greatest name, player and personality, can only take the current generation so far, few of yesterday's team had met Dyer, for ill health had largely kept the six-time club champion away from Punt Road in recent years. Ty Zantuck, who kicked five goals yesterday in a surprising forward role, knew of Dyer only by deed and reputation. "We tried our butts off today, but just couldn't get there," said Zantuck, 21. "Not a lot of people knew him personally, we all knew of him, and we definitely, I reckon, in the first half tried a little bit harder and attacked the ball as probably he would. It would have been good to win for him, but we've got next week now to try and finish off on a good note."