ROYCE HART was recruited from Clarence ( Tasmania ) by the Richmond Tigers in 1965 when only 17 years of age. He underwent an extensive Gym Program while graduating through the Tigers Under 19 and Reserves Teams, prior to making his League debut in Round One of 1967. Hart played 187 Games, kicking 369 Goals until his retirement as a player in 1977. He was rated as possibly the finest Australian Football Player to play the Centre Half Forward position, and his Hall of Fame Card and many cards of his Richmond Team-mates are available at qualityafltradingcards.com.
Hart had an enormous impact in his first year, and once he settled in to the key forward role, the Richmond Tiger’s fortunes turned abruptly. Royce Hart’s performances resulted in the Tigers winning the 1967 Premiership and he was unanimously chosen as the Recruit of the Year. He was a supremely balanced Player who was totally fearless at the contest ( his blind courage cost him a number of injuries which curtailed the length of his career ). Hart had a very athletic spring and used his vice-like grip to pull down many exciting marks. His ability to take strong contested marks and kick long left-footed Goals at key points in Games, were the team-lifting performances that cemented Hart’s appointment as the Tigers Captain, culminating in successive Grand Final victories in 1973 and 1974.
Royce Hart has a long list of personal achievements as a player which include:- Club Leading Goalkicker in 1967 and 1971, Club Best and Fairest Player in 1969 and 1972, Club Premiership Player in 1967, 1969, 1973 and 1974, Club Captain from 1972 to 1975, Selected as Interstate Representative on 11 occasions, selected as an All Australian, and selected in the Richmond, Tasmanian and AFL Teams of the Century. Royce Hart was honoured with selection as an inaugural inductee to the Australian Football League Hall of Fame in 1996 and subsequently was inducted into the Richmond and Tasmanian Football Halls of Fame respectively.
Hart proved to be an inspirational Champion for the Richmond Tigers and his forthright and uncompromising attitude caused occasional flare-ups, however his devotion to the Club was undeniable. He was always very confident in his own ability, which is demonstrated in his highly criticised Autobiography which he had produced as a 22 year old. In true Hart style, his on-going performances overcame the histrionics caused by the Book’s publication and his highly-focussed endeavours continued to draw many plaudits, as did his ability to play inspirational football later in his career, despite crippling knee injuries.
After his retirement as a player, Royce Hart was appointed Skills Coach at the Richmond Tigers, and is credited with fast-tracking the career of Michael Roach, the sharp-shooting Full Forward. In 1979 Hart coached the Richmond Reserves Team, and then fulfilled a lifetime ambition to Coach at the highest level, when he was appointed Senior Coach at the Footscray Bulldogs ( now the Western Bulldogs ), in 1980. He had set very high fitness standards for the Footscray players to achieve, and many players were sacked for lack of application. The Team only won 7 Games in the 1980-81 Seasons, although Hart’s influence with Kelvin Templeton at Centre Half Forward is credited for the players Brownlow Medal victory in 1980.
Royce Hart obviously had issues with attempting to coach players who were not as talented, nor as motivated as himself , and the Bulldogs hierarchy decided to replace Hart as Senior Coach after Round Ten of the 1982 Season. Although Hart coached the Richmond Tigers Reserves Team again in 1984, he did not achieve anywhere near the success as a Coach, that his individual playing standards warranted. Royce Hart will always be remembered for his role as the key focal point for the Richmond Tigers Teams that were regarded as some of the Greatest Teams of the modern Australian Football Era.
( Image courtesy of richmondfc.com.au ).
Further Reading- ” The Royce Hart Story, Nelson, Melbourne, 1970.