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    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Vale Mr Max Oppy

    Max Oppy, one of the club's great rovers, has passed away at the age of 84.
    He was one of the last remaining 1943 Richmond Premiership players.

    Oppy was born Wiliam Max, grew up in Maryborough and barracked for Essendon.
    The great Dick Reynolds was his cousin. In the 1943 Grand Final- Oppy was only 18 years ago, and given the job of tagging the Essendon champion.

    If I was given a job to do I would do it to the best of my ability. They talk about taggers or whatever today, virtually that was my job for the day. Didn’t matter where he went on the field, whether he went off the ball, I went to the back pocket. Didn’t matter where dick Reynolds went , it was to keep him out of the play, because at that time he was the match winning rover and probably the best rover of the league at that time. That was the job , to blanket him and keep him out of the game.
    Dick got about 6 stitches in his eyes but that was alright, he snuck into my fist.
    - interview with Rhett Bartlett in Aug 2004.

    Richmond won that day, and Oppy was applauded by spectators and the media for his role.
    The following year, the Tigers lost the 1944 Grand Final to Fitzroy.

    Oppy played 185 games for Richmond, became a Life Member, and was inducted into the Richmond Hall of Fame, on the same night his life long friend, Des Rowe, was inducted. That had met each other when they were 15 years old, when Oppy's Richmond locker was next to his.

    His last game of football was Rd 18 1954 vs Collingwood- he was chaired off the ground, and later admitted that it bought him to tears.

    He also captained Richmond twice, both times when Des Rowe was unavailable. Coincidentally, both times were against Collingwood, and both times Richmond won.
    'My record as captain is the best at Richmond, tell you now' - he told me. He is right- 100% strike rate.

    He also coached the club in 1956, replacing Alby Pannam. Oppy coached for just that one year, winning 6 of the 18 games.
    As a coach I think Ill forget about it. I always say I am one of the sacked coaches. As Jack Dyer said there’s only two types of coaches, the sacked ones and the ones that are going to get sacked.

    In later life, he excelled at golf, winning a club chapmionship, and representated Australia at a Sportsman Event in England, the day after the British Open.

    When I met him for our interview 4 years ago, he was living in Sorrento, in a small house , by himself.
    He had scrapbooks on the table, easily recalled his first game of football, and was unfazed by a heart attack he had suffered earlier in the year.
    After our interview he led me outside to my car, across the road was an old cemetery, no more than 30 metres from his house.
    'Look on the bright side Rhett', he said ' when I die, I don't have far to go'

    RIP Mr Oppy.

    - Rhett Bartlett