Collingwood Notables Database
Lewis Thomas Charles (Lou) Richards, MBE
Footballer, publican, newspaper commentator, radio and television personality
Collingwood born and bred Lou Richards was an Australian icon - often described as a multi-media megastar - loved and respected for his football prowess but even more widely for his football commentary and good-natured antics in print, radio and television. On his death in 2017 he was honoured with a State Funeral at a packed St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate his life. In its tribute the Victorian Government stated ‘his reach transcended his time as a player … and he went on to represent the sport through his enduring and distinguished career within the media’.
Certainly in the eyes of Collingwood Football Club supporters he was an outstanding footballer who captained Collingwood to the 1953 Victorian Football League premiership. He was also a Collingwood ‘ambassador’ always pleased and proud to acknowledge his humble beginning in Abbotsford – he claimed it was the higher-class part of Collingwood – and lived there throughout his boyhood and early married life. In his autobiography, Boots and All, he talks of his school days at the Lithgow Street State School, now the Abbotsford Primary School, and how he ‘graduated to “college” at the Collingwood Technical School’.
To some extent his media career overshadowed his brilliance as a footballer. A rough and tough opponent, he was born to play the game. He was proud of his Greek heritage as the last of the Pannam– Richards dynasty of six family members who played for the Magpies: grandfather Charlie Pannam Senior (229 games from 1894-1907); great uncle Albert Pannam (28 games, 1907-1909); uncle Charlie Pannam Junior (97 games,1917-1922); uncle Alby Pannam (181 games, 1933-1943, 1945); brother Ron Richards (143 games, 1947-1956). Lou and Ron Richards’ mother was one of Charlie Pannam Senior’s daughters.
Lou was a skilful and brave footballer. The Herald’s Alf Brown, doyen of football journalists at the time, described Richards as ‘always doing something … if he was not playing cleverly, he was arguing, sniping, bumping, gesticulating but it was always something rebounding to Collingwood’s benefit. At his best Richards was a brilliant rover. He was fast, clever, adept at the famous Collingwood short game, an elusive loose man, and a “big little man” with indomitable courage.’
In 1981 he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire and a year later the National Trust classified him as a person of importance. He received the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001. In 1996 he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame and in 2008 was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
With a cheeky grin and irreverent sense of humour, he was never afraid to laugh at himself and clowned his way through hundreds of TV skits that endeared him to audiences and his colleagues. His long and distinguished media career started after his retirement as a player. He worked across print, radio and television starting with The Argus newspaper, and radio 3XY in 1955 before moving to the Sun News-Pictorial, radio 3DB and then to the Sunday Age.
He was a member of the inaugural broadcast team for Channel Seven’s World of Sports in 1958. He was one of three champions with the legendary Jack Dyer and Bob Davis who prognosticated on league teams on Thursday nights. Later he was a member of Channel Nine’s Wide World of Sports, Sports Sunday and the Sunday Footy Show. In 1982 he reigned as King of Melbourne’s Moomba Festival. He retired from all public appearances after the death of his wife, Edna, in 2008.
In a tribute after his death Collingwood Football Club President Eddie McGuire summed it up for all football lovers. ‘No man,’ he wrote, ‘has done more for our game than Lou Richards. He was a quintessential Collingwood man who spoke to the entire football world. No one epitomised Melbourne and its love affair with football and entertainment more than the great Lou Richards.’
Between 1941 and 1955 Lou played 250 games and kicked 423 goals and represented Victoria three times in interstate games. He captained Collingwood from 1952 to 1955, including the 1953 premiership in which his younger brother played a special part as one of the best players on the ground.
After leaving Collingwood Tech. he ‘inflicted himself on the industrial world’. His working life had a shaky start and after a stint at the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works he returned to school to obtain his Leaving certificate. Soon afterwards he followed another family tradition by moving into the pub business and running the Town Hall Hotel in Errol Street and the Phoenix in Flinders Street, the watering hole for Melbourne journalists particularly from the Herald and Sun News-Pictorial.
In 1948 Lou married Edna Lillian Bowie, one of the most attractive young women in Collingwood, and moved just down the road from his parents’ house at 56 Park Street to 77A Park Street. The two met at the regular Saturday night dance at the Collingwood Town Hall and their romance lasted for 60 years until Edna died in 2008. They had two daughters, Nicole and Kim.
His last public appearance was at the unveiling of a statue in his honour at the Holden Centre at Olympic Park in 2014 – a lasting tribute to a true legend.
Despite his achievements in life and fame he always remained a true Collingwood ‘battler’. Although he lived in other Melbourne suburbs and crossed the river to live in Toorak, his spiritual home was Victoria Park in the heart of Collingwood.
56 Park Street
77A Park Street
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|15 March 1923||Richmond, Victoria (but home address Collingwood)|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Edna Lillian Bowie, died 2008||30 October 1948, Wesleyan Church, Lonsdale Street Melbourne||Nicole, Kim|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|75A Park Street||Abbotsford||Not identified|
|56 Park Street||Abbotsford||Extant|
|77A Park Street||Abbotsford||Extant|
|Toorak Road||Toorak||Not identified|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|8 May 2017||Windsor||Private cremation|
Richards, Boots and all; Richards, The kiss of death; Richards, My wonderful life; Roberts, A century of the best.
The Herald-Sun and The Age – articles including tributes and death notices from 9 May until 20 May 2017.
Eulogies spoken at State Funeral