Fitzroy Football Club: Great football, Great community, Great culture.

Vale Matt Rendell


By David Leydon

Supporters of the Fitzroy Football Club are devastated to hear of the passing of our former star ruckman and captain Matt Rendell who has passed away after a heart attack earlier this week.

Matt was a Fitzroy star and legend of the wonderful and successful Fitzroy teams of the 1980s that regularly made the finals.

Recruited from South Australian club West Torrens, Matt made his debut for Fitzroy in the 1981 season. Standing at 6’7” he was a proven ready-made ruckman but played his first season at the Roys at full forward as then club captain Ron Alexander was the established first ruck choice.

Matt played 19 games that first season including two finals and kicked an impressive 45 goals.

At the end of the ’81 season Alexander retired and Rendell took on first ruck duties for most of the 1980s.

In 1982 and 1983 Matt Rendell was a recognised star of the AFL, winning the Fitzroy Best and Fairest in both years.

In Round 13 of 1983, Matt played one of the greatest individual games of all time when, as ruck he kicked eight goals in the top-of-the-ladder clash between second-placed Fitzroy and top side North Melbourne. Amazingly Fitzroy won that game by 150 points!

Matt’s 1984, 85 and 86 seasons were, at times, curtailed by injuries, but whenever he was on the park he was magnificent. His wonderful on-field leadership rewarded by the club when he was made captain from 1985–87.

Matt Rendell retired from Fitzroy at the end of the 1991 season after one more outstanding game for Fitzroy. In the last round of that season the Roys were sitting on the bottom of the ladder and had to play runaway ladder leader and premiership favourite West Coast Eagles at Princes Park.

The Roys were down all day but found something for their much-loved retiring ruckman, storming home in the last quarter to snatch an unlikely but long-remembered victory.

As he was being chaired off the ground that day, I shook Matt Rendell’s hand and thanked him for the magnificent games he had played for Fitzroy. I have to confess he was one of my favourite players.

Matt Rendell after his final game for Fitzroy at Princes Park in 1991

My guernsey from the time had his number 9 on it. I always wished I could have played football the way he did. He was tall, athletic, could kick on both sides and regularly taking magnificent one grab pack marks.

He was both admired and feared by all his opponents in the league at the time. No opposition ruckman enjoyed playing on Matt Rendell. This was the time in the VFL of superstar rucks like Simon and Justin Madden, and Brownlow medallists Gary Dempsey and Peter Moore. Rendell could beat them all on his day.

It was Dempsey he played on when he kicked those eight goals in the aforementioned 1983 game. What a star he was.

Affectionately known as Bundy, Matt also enjoyed himself off the field at many Roys and wider football and social functions.

After his playing days he made a name for himself as a top line recruiter for a number of AFL clubs.

He was a regular at all the Fitzroy-Brisbane Lions Historical Society dinners.

In 2022 Matt came back to the Fitzroy Football Club at Brunswick Street Oval to take part in the proud and emotional naming of the Kevin Murray Stand. It’s fair to say he was mobbed that day by dozens of old Roys supporters all wanting to reminisce.

Matt Rendell (fifth from left) with former players and team mates at the launch of the Kevin Murray Stand at Brunswick Street Oval in season 2022

With his passing, the lives of his many loyal Fitzroy fans will be tinged with sadness.

He was the hope of a generation of supporters in the ‘80s who grew up following his every move. Matt Rendell and his exploits coupled with those of players like Bernie Quinlan, Gary Wilson, Paul Roos, Richard Osborne and Gary Pert as being synonymous with the glorious success of our teams over a now long since passed decade.

One thing that will never leave our memories will be the image of an exhausted Matt Rendell playing his heart out for our club week in week out like nothing else mattered.

To many Fitzroy fans looking for something to cling to and believe in nothing else mattered.

Thank you Matt Rendell – forever a Royboy, forever our champion.

Fitzroy President David Leydon with Matt Rendell at the Fitzroy Brisbane Lions Historical Society Museum

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