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Dick Reynolds champion VFL Player

Richard Sylvannus Reynolds was a famous Australian Rules football player.

He was known popularly as Dick Reynolds and he mostly played for Essendon in the Victorian Football League. Throughout his career, Dick led Essendon to many Grand Finals and also coached the team to winning Premierships.

Before he was recruited by Essendon, Reynolds played for the Woodlands in the Essendon District Football League.
Dick Reynolds

There are only four footballers in history to have won the Brownlow Medal thrice and Dick Reynolds is one of them. He is also a member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame and was one of the initial legends when the Hall of Fame was formed in 1996.

He belonged to a football family as many of his relatives, like his cousin William Oppy who played for Richmond and his brother Tom Reynolds who also played for Essendon, were also league players.

Tom played alongside Dick in a few VFL Grand Finals.

Dick Reynolds was a very reserved man despite his astounding achievements in football. He was loved by Essendon supporters and was given the nickname “King Richard”. His attitude not only won the hearts of football fans but also other football players.

Dick Reynolds won the Essendon’s best and fairest award.

Early Life and Death

Richard Sylvannus Reynolds was born on 20th June, 1915. He was a football fan from an early age and was a Carlton supporter. Dick Reynolds was so enthusiastic about the game that on match days he would sell lollies outside Princess Park.

He started playing in the Essendon District Football League before he was recruited by the Bombers.

Dick Reynolds died on 2nd September, 2002. He was 87 at the time. However, before his death, earlier that year, he saw his legacy live on through his grandson Joel, who was selected to play for Essendon in 2001. Dick Reynolds was present to watch his grandson play his first game against the Brisbane Lions.

Playing Career

Dick Reynolds’ playing career with Essendon started in 1933, which is also considered the uprising of Essendon after fourteen years. The club, after losing the 1924 premiership to Richmond, experienced a lot of issues as the players blamed each other for the loss and the club’s reputation was in tatters.

After Dick Reynolds joined the club, he made an immediate impact, and at a young age won his first Barlow medal.

Dick Reynolds was 18 when he started playing for Essendon, and by the time he was 19, he had a Barlow medal in hand. He not only contributed towards Essendon as a player, but also took the club to great heights as a coach. To this day, he is regarded as one of the greatest players of Essendon.

Career as Captain

Six years after joining Essendon, Dick Reynolds was made the team’s captain and was also appointed as coach alongside Harry Hunter. Dick Reynolds displayed his skills and tactics in football by leading Essendon to the finals in 1940.

This was the first time the club made it to the finals since the 1926 defeat against Melbourne. Essendon was not able to make it to the Grand Final the same year, but the journey to the finals made the team realize its lost potential.

VFL Grand Final of 1941

As the team’s captain and coach, this was the first Grand Final that Dick Reynolds led Essendon to the 1941 VFL Grand Final was played between Essendon and Melbourne Football Club. Melbourne came on strong since the beginning, but Essendon managed to resist the pressure. Unfortunately for the Bombers, Melbourne took the victory by a 29-point margin.

However, as the team’s captain and coach, Dick didn’t let this defeat demotivate his team. Instead, he made it realize that this was its first ever Grand Final in over a decade.

VFL Grand Final of 1942

Essendon supporters and fans could see the impact of Dick Reynolds’ leadership on the team as the 1942 season marked the team’s second Grand Final entry in a long time. This time, Essendon faced Richmond in the Grand Finals.

This was the second time the teams faced one another in the Grand Finals after 1924. Towards the beginning of the game, Essendon put up a good fight against Richmond; as the game progressed, they widened the margin. Finally, after 19 years, Essendon won their fifth Premiership by a 53-point margin.

VFL Grand Final of 1943

In the 1943 Grand Final, Richmond came back with a vengeance for their defeat the year before. The Grand Final was played in Princess Park, Melbourne. This is regarded as one of the greatest Grand Finals in football history because none of the teams dominated the field at any time; they were both neck and neck throughout.

Richmond secured the Premiership victory by a slim five-point margin. This was also the last Grand Final that Dick played alongside his brother Tom.

Essendon was not able to make it to the Grand Finals in the following two years. The team finished in third place in the 1943 season, but then their position dropped down to eighth. However, this was the last season Essendon was at the bottom of the ladder.

VFL Grand Final of 1946

Dick Reynolds was playing half forward for Essendon in the 1946 Grand Finals as his brother Tom went on to play for St. Kilda in 1944 and Bob McClure had secured his position. Essendon faced Melbourne in the Premiership match.

Melbourne started the game strong and led Essendon by a significant margin by halftime. The team stepped back into the game with eight behinds and eleven goals and secured their sixth Premiership victory easily.

VFL Grand Final of 1947

The following season, Essendon managed to qualify for the Grand Finals again and played against Carlton. Essendon were aiming to secure their second Premiership victory, back to back.

Both teams were playing exceptionally well from the start and didn’t let either one dominate the field completely.

It even seemed as if the game was going to be drawn. At the last minute, Ken Baxter of Carlton got the ball and passed it to Fred Stafford, who booted the winning goal with only forty seconds to spare.

Carlton won the 1947 Premiership by a single point in one of the best football matches ever played.

VFL Grand Final of 1948

Essendon played their third consecutive Grand Final in 1948 against Melbourne. Essendon and Melbourne were head-to-head and the game resulted in a draw. A week later, a replay was held to decide the Premiership winner and Melbourne secured the victory by 39 points.

VFL Grand Final of 1949

Carlton and Essendon met again in the 1949 VFL Grand Final. The previous Grand Final of 1947 saw Carlton win by a single point. Under the Dick Reynolds’s leadership as captain and coach, the team dominated the game early and secured the club’s seventh Premiership victory by a massive 73 points.

Dick Reynolds was playing as a forward and managed to get in on the action and score one goal in the game.

VFL Grand Final of 1950

The 1950 VFL Grand Final brought North Melbourne and Essendon face to face in the 54th VFL Grand Final. Following the previous year’s victory, Essendon started strong early in the season and kept their performance up in the Grand Final as well.

Dick led the team to strong start against North Melbourne and then Essendon kept widening the margin and eventually won the game by 38 points. This was the club’s eighth Premiership victory.

VFL Grand Final of 1951

The Bombers led by Dick Reynolds were trying to win their third premiership in a row. The 1951 Grand Final was Essendon against Geelong. Geelong was fairly new at the time and had only won three Premierships before 1951. On the other hand, Essendon were appearing in the Grand Finals for the sixth consecutive year.

Surprisingly, Geelong secured their fourth Premiership victory against the reigning champions. Dick Reynolds was more inclined on coaching the team for this Grand Final and didn’t play himself. With Reynolds in the reserves and their star full-forward John Coleman suspended for four matches, the Bombers couldn’t match up to Geelong.

Following this season, Dick Reynolds retired as a player but went on to coach Essendon for nine more years.

Career as Coach

After his retirement as a player, Dick coached the team till 1960. Essendon went to the finals thrice and was runner-up twice. Unfortunately for the Bombers, they had lost their star forward John Coleman and one of Essendon’s greatest players Dick Reynolds and were not able to recover from the losses.

Awards And Achievements

Dick Reynolds played four Premiership games, all of them as Essendon’s captain. He was the team’s captain for 11 years, which is an achievement in itself.

He won the W. S. Crichton Medal seven times between 1934 and 1943. This medal is given to Essendon’s Best and Fairest. In addition, he is one of the four players in history to win the Brownlow Medal three times in his career.

Reynolds won the Brownlow Medals between 1934 and 1938. In 1943, he was given the title of “Club’s Leading Goal kicker” by Essendon.

Dick Reynolds is a member of both the AFL team of the century and Essendon Team of the Century as half forward flank and a rover respectively. In honour of his contributions to the game of football, he was one of the initial legends of the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996. Aside from these titles, the Melbourne Cricket ground has a statue of Dick Reynolds, which was put up in his honour in 2004.

Dick Reynolds will always be remembered by his teammates and fans as one of the best players in the league.

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