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Roach was an enormously popular player whose career did not quite live up to expectation because of injury and constant shuffling of his position by the club. Nevertheless, he achieved many honours in the game and became one of the first players from Tasmania to play 200 VFL games. Tigers with a succinct message: “I got another one for you. Richmond rushed the young Roach over to Melbourne for the 1977 season. Expectations of the 18-year-old recruit were high. Initially, Roach’s rise in the game was much quicker than Royce Hart’s had been.
At 193 cm, Roach was taller than Hart and had a much more developed physique. In addition, he was very mobile and agile for his size. With Hart in his last season, the Tigers decided to ease Roach into the game slowly and he played nine senior games on the wing, thus emphasising his athleticism. But 1978 proved a big let down, and injuries and ordinary form kept him to just three games. Hart tutored the right-footed tyro in the art of kicking the long, accurate drop punt. By now mature and filled out to 92 kg, Roach took the game by storm in the opening half of the new season. To his brilliant contested marking he added an excellent lead and was a revelation when shooting for goal, rarely missing.
Capable of goaling from a long way out, Roach raised standards among key forwards by regularly employing his non-preferred foot when kicking and often handballed to a teammate in a better position even when within scoring range. Previously, these actions were an anathema to most forwards, who were expected to shoot for goal no matter how difficult the opportunity. In the ensuing years, video of the mark has been played countless times on television while a photograph of Roach sitting atop a pack of Hawk defenders was reproduced as posters, bags, men’s ties and even as a carpet pattern. Even though Roach was dominating and kicking goals, the team was struggling to win. Roach became the first Richmond player to kick ten goals in a match since 1945. In 1980, with Richmond heading toward the record for the highest aggregate in a season, Roach was the key to the Tigers’ attack.