‘It Happens’: All-Time Moments, Episode 8

Saturday, June 27, 1981.

Sometime in the afternoon.

Round 14 of the VFL season saw defending premiers Richmond play the middling North Melbourne at the MCG, which still only had 2 rows of seating in the first tier of the Ponsford Stand, because OH&S laws were imaginary laws for sissies and communists.

Another thing you’ll notice is that due to the conditions, ‘they’ were playing with a yellow Sherrin for a game that, like every VFL game, started at the 2:10pm timeslot.

During the fairly uneventful game, in a quarter that has never been determined, the Roos moved the ball forward with a chain of handballs, and Steve McCann spotted an unmanned Roos playing coach (And official Legend of the game) Malcolm Blight, who duly waltzed in to the opening goal and…

Kicked a point.

The sheer bewilderment in Lou Richards’ voice makes it all the more hilarious:

Back to Blight for goal number 4, he couldn’t miss this, HE’S –

I think he might have put through for a point, HE’S RUN THE WRONG WAY!

It’s unbelievable, he thought that was the goals, he really still thinks it now! Look!

It is unbelievable because – I was dumfounded myself!

Blight finished the game with a wayward 4.8, and Richmond won by 43 points, inflicting more pain on North’s troublesome season, having been thumped by 114 points against Geelong at Kardinia Park the week prior.

Blight’s comments after his now memorable point:

“I’ve never done that before. I’m probably going barmy.”

I wonder how that point would look with the Noel’s Caravans jingle over the top.

What Happened Next

After being appointed to replace Ron Barassi, Blighty was dumped as North Melbourne coach after a Round 16 defeat to Fitzroy, ending the era of the playing coach in the VFL, although playing coaches weren’t officially outlawed until the salary cap was introduced in 1987, as a means to stop wealthy clubs (Hello Carlton) from circumventing the cap.

A distinction should be made that Blight wasn’t the last Captain/Coach in the league – Wayne Schimmelbusch was North captain in 1981, and it was Alex Jesaulenko at St Kilda who was the last Captain-Coach in the VFL, with Jezza playing his last game in Round 8 of 1981, before focusing on coaching the Saints (Hint: It didn’t go well).

Blight’s former teammate and fellow Hall of Fame Legend Barry Cable travelled across the Nullarbor and took over as North coach for Round 17, and Blighty responded with a lazy 11.6 in a narrow win against Footscray, getting the Roos home by 7 points.

Through his legendary career that included Premiership wins as a player & coach, a Margarey Medal at Woodville, a Brownlow Medal and a Coleman Medal, Blighty gave us several more moments that could easily make appearances in this list:

The 78m post-high torpedo after the siren against Carlton in 1976

The retaken kick after the siren that he shanked out on the full against Hawthorn in 1977

Helping set up Kerry Good’s wild goal in the 1980 Night Grand Final after the umpire didn’t hear the siren

And when he broadcast by torchlight after the fabled power outage at Waverley Park in 1996.

Malcolm, you rarely give a rat’s tossbag, and that’s why we like you.

And that’s all for another edition of…

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