Nathan Burke can’t recall his Richmond opponent on debut, but that is understandable after the passage of 34 years time.

But he has two vivid recollections of the game, one of which generated a story in the Sunday paper the next day.

"The headline was 'Nathan ghosts into the big time'", he remembers.

"I was running with the flight of the ball and Jimmy Jess (“The Ghost”) was coming the other way. At the last second I managed to see him out of the side of my eye and just ducked in time.

"If I hadn’t he would have put me into the Huggins Stand!”

The other clear memory is of an action which would become his trademark across 323 tenacious games with the Saints.

“I tried to tackle big Mark Lee. I was about 70 kilos at the time and he was over 95 kgs," Burke said.

He just kept running as if he was piggy-backing me! So I had big encounters with two Tiger legends that day.

- Nathan Burke

Those moments had extra significance for Burke as he had always been a Richmond fan. His father Barry had played for the Tiger reserves and had attended St Ignatius Primary school, the starting point for countless Tiger players down through the decades.

"In 1987 I still had the 1980 Richmond premiership poster on the wall and the Geoff Raines signed duffle coat in the cupboard," he said.

"I pulled down the poster after that first game."

There was also the matter of getting to know his own teammates.

Under the watchful eye of Joffa Cunningham, Nathan Burke is about to pounce on the ball in his debut game.

"I had played the first two games in the under-19s then the next four in the reserves so I hadn’t done the pre-season with the senior blokes.

"But Joffa Cunningham and Trevor Barker really welcomed you in. The funny thing was that I wasn’t that nervous before the game.

"Then we had a team meeting after the game. I couldn’t eat anything, but I had to race to the toilets to vomit. I think it had all suddenly caught up with me."

In the battle between the two bottom teams, St Kilda took out a fine pressure win against Richmond with Tony Lockett (six goals) Ken Sheldon (four) providing the firepower and Mark Gamble in charge down back.

It was a spirited and willing game in which Richmond often looked to be the better side, but was unable to seize control.

Richmond led by two points at half time and St Kilda started the final term one point ahead before surging away to a 23-point victory.

St Kilda’s attack was superior and Lockett’s forward work was superb, working in perfect harmony with the spectacular Nicky Winmar.

Lockett, Winmar, Loewe, Burns, Gamble, Rice

Lockett 6, Sheldon 4, Winmar 4, Owen 4, Burns , Gotch, Loewe