Over half a century of football passion has since been enjoyed by young prospective Tiger Cubs impersonating their Tiger heroes in the little league; and all thanks to one man Blair Campbell; who kicked it all off for the tigers!! Not one tiger fan who has seen a Tigers game in the last fifty years hasn’t barracked hard; giggled and laughed in appreciation of the vim and vigor of a young kid with his jumper too big, tongue out and screaming at the top of his lungs “kick it to me! Kick it to me” as he charged across the turf!
The VFL Little League made its fourteen minute half time debut at VFL football grounds. It wasn’t an exact science I suspect. A squad of local boys cobbled together to form VFL aligned teams designed to provide some form of entertainment for football crowds during the long break. The Richmond coach was a very young Blair Campbell. The 20 year old had made his VFL debut for the Tigers in the penultimate round of the previous season. He enjoyed some celebrity too, kicking an after the siren winning goal in his first game. After the Tigers failed to catch the teams above them in the chase to the finals that year, Campbell returned to the VFL Reserves competition winning best on ground honors in that team’s premiership.
An impediment his blossoming career came in the preseason – in the form of a year ending knee injury. Presumably, his disappointment was tempered with an invitation to orchestrate the Tigers Little League during his recuperation. Not sure how the boys were selected. The Lloyd Street Central School in East Malvern provided six or seven of the players. Blair was ex-Lloyd Street himself. Pretty sure there were a few lads from De La Salle too. He also produced a weekly newsletter ensuring all the boys had nicknames that would stick like “Ironman Tom Montague”, “Dazzling Daryl Harbrow”, Graeme “Pelican” Pilkington and Rodney “The Bear” Bardon.On Sunday afternoons, Blair would choreograph ad hoc football games at the local Hedgley Dene.
The neighborhood kids would rock up, put down a couple of school bags for goals and off they would go. Blair umpired and modified some rules too. The big kids could mark and bump but they were not allowed to kick goals. For a team to score, they had to handball or kick to a little tacker – as they were the only players allowed to score.
After the game, Blair would walk the boys all around to the local milk bar in Darling Road and buy them all a milkshake. All fifteen or twenty of them! A similar number all seemed to fit into his blue Morris Minor and get a post match lift home.
There weren’t any pre-match tactical conversations or specific drills at training but Blair made sure the kids knew how to belt out the Richmond theme song. And followed up with the quintessential,“ Eat ‘em Alive!!!” They didn’t get to sing it in the ’67 Grand Final like the seniors did though which was such a pity! Long may me see these kids play!