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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Michael Roach

Member 2018

Born: 9 October 1858

Michael Roach (known as Disco) was an exceptional goal-kicker.

The talented junior sportsman grew up in the small town of Westbury and represented the Tasmanian under 16 Schoolboys team in 1974. It was at this time that he was first noticed by the Victorian Football League’s Richmond Football Club.

In early-1975, the Richmond Football Club enticed Michael to Melbourne. However, after only six weeks, Michael decided to return to Tasmania, subsequently lining up with Longford for the 1975 NTFA season.

Michael’s two seasons of senior football with Longford were an enormous success, topping the club goal-kicking in both years and being chosen to represent the NTFA and Tasmania.

At the end of 1975, Michael signed with Richmond, but opted to remain with Longford for another season.

Michael arrived at Richmond in 1977, initially playing as wingman and debuting in Round 8. After making nine senior appearances, he finished the season as a member of Richmond’s reserves premiership team.

After his 1978 season was ruined by injury, Michael was recognised as having the makings of a promising full-forward. Royce Hart tutored Michael in mastering the drop punt, and by the start of 1979 Michael made his mark: booting 90 goals from 19 games in a stunning breakout season; he almost certainly would have passed the 100-goal mark had he not been injured representing Victoria and missed three games. That total included 10 against St Kilda – becoming the first Tiger to kick 10 goals in a game since 1945; and six against Hawthorn in Round 5, a match in which he took a famous soaring mark over several opponents, an effort which saw him win Mark of the Year.

Late in the 1979, Michael became one of a select few footballers to represent two states in the same season, when he turned out for Tasmania at the State of Origin Carnival in Perth. With nine goals in three matches, Roach was the tournaments leading goal-kicker, and was subsequently chosen in the All-Australian team.

From 1979-81, Michael was the stand-out full-forward in VFL football, kicking 288 goals across the three seasons.

Michael’s greatest season was 1980 when he kicked 112 goals to claim the Coleman Medal and become only the second Tiger to cross the 100-goal barrier. Despite a relatively quiet finals series, he nevertheless went on to play a crucial role in the Tigers premiership triumph. He also again represented both Tasmania and Victoria, booting seven goals in the Big Vs win over Queensland.

After a second Coleman Medal in 1981, Michael was replaced as Richmond full-forward in 1982 and was utilised as a roaming ruckman. From 1982-84 Michael played much further up the ground and made only occasional forays deep forward, such as when Brian Taylor was injured for much of the back half of 1982.

At the end of 1984, Brian Taylor became one of the myriad of players to move between Richmond and Collingwood, and Roach was able to reclaim his mantle as the Tigers main spearhead. He wasted no time proving that he was still a force in the position booting 80 goals in 1985 and 62 in 1986. By now Richmond were a side on the wane, however in Michael they still had a player who could match it with any opponent Michael’s remarkable success as a goal-kicker can be attributed to his possession of every trick in the key forward trade: his great athleticism allowed him to beat opponents whether on the lead or one-on-one, and this combined with his strong hands made him one of the best contested marks in the game. Once he had ball in hand, Michael was a penetrating kick and was noted as an extremely reliable set shot, having very few genuinely poor games in front of goal across his whole career.

Michael was a key forward ahead of his time, known for passing to teammates in better positions and kicking on his non-preferred foot. Sadly, Michael’s final years at VFL level were blighted by injuries, including severe back and Achilles issues. Now out of favour as first-choice full-forward, Michael played only three games in 1988 before bowing out of VFL footy with seven games in 1989, the exact number he needed to reach 200.

Michael Roach retired with 607 goals in the yellow and black, then third all-time for Richmond behind Jack Titus (970) and Kevin Bartlett (778).

Post-playing career, Michael maintained close ties to Richmond, serving at various times as skills coach and reserves team manager during the 1990s, while also being a prominent member of the Save our Skins campaign which saved Richmond from bankruptcy.

An enormously popular figure within football circles, his on-field contributions have been recognised with inclusion in both the Tasmanian and Longford Teams of the Century.