Peter Ricci's Blog

ramblings of a peripheral visionary

Matthew Richardson and Richmond FC

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I had the pleasure of playing at the same club as Matthew and I still remember someone telling me one day he will be a champion, it was 1991 and I think he was 16 years old. There was a man on the field kicking to him and he was leading and marking the ball. He was tall, skinny and fast. I also played against Matthew a few times, twice for Clarence and once when Tasmania played Richmond, when he was an established AFL player.

Matthew was tall, fast, had amazing endurance and was one of the best pack markers the game has seen in a long while. Even forward greats like Tony Locket, Dermot Brereton or Jason Dunstall were not really very good pack markers. He was also nearly impossible to tag as he was exceptionally fast for a man his size, matched with incredible endurance. I can remember some games where he led around exhausted rivals and just appeared everywhere, boy Matthew Richardson could be exciting.

But then can think of days where he would completely dominate and then all of the sudden an umpiring decision went against him or a team mate didn't kick it to him effectively and he left me bewildered by his tantrums, which almost always affected his play for the worse. Damn he used to frustrate his fans and yet, we always forgave him.

So what memories do I conjure up when I think of Matthew Richardson as a player? I am sure there will be many writers and football people telling us he was one of the greats of all time and they will not be far off the mark, however for me, he falls short – even as I write this he frustrates me.

Think about your first thought when someone mentions his name! My first thought is that Richardson was shaky whenever kicking for a goal he shouldn't miss, he was fine from 50 yards out, but anything easy, you could just see he wanted to get it over and done with. Secondly he was a little dodgy when it counted, this maybe a little harsh as he didn't have too many games where Richmond had to win, but if you look back over the 10 or 15 games during his career where a win could mean the finals, Richmond always lost and for the most part Richo didn't play well and for me, that is what makes a champion, being able to deliver when it counts. Think of all the recent greats that do it, Wayne Carey, Gary Ayres, James Hird, Andrew McLeod and Peter Matera are all champions that did it when it counted. Matthew Richardson didn't play in the team s these guys had, but he had at least half a dozen chances to lift us into the finals and from memory failed each time. This does not a champion make.

Now these are terrible thoughts to have for a guy who really wore his heart on his sleeve and played some of the most amazing games of football in a Tigers Guernsey. You see Matthew Richardson was Richmond and when I think of Richmond FC since 1982 I am left disappointed.

I cannot think of a year since 1995 when Richmond started the year with a team that couldn't make the finals. Every pre-season was filled with hope and every post season with disappointment. I remember the hope John Northey brought the club as a coach. Back then Richmond were a bash and crash team that no one wanted to play but everyone wanted to watch, they were relentless and downright dirty. But we sacked Northey and got Robert Walls, who from his players I have spoken to, puts you to sleep with his endless diatribes and research sessions.

So Richmond lost everything they gained and forgot that when all else deserts you, when you are tired –  passion is everything!

We then moved onto Jeff Gieschen, Danny Frawley and Terry Wallace – nearly all of these men got the Tigers to within a game of finals. I remember these crucial final home and away games and they all ended in disaster. I can even remember losing the final home and away game, when all we needed to do was to beat the bottom team to make the finals and you guessed it, we failed.

As for this year? Well we now know one thing, there is not one player left from the old guard so maybe now Richmond can move forward and possibly make the finals?

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Written by peterricci

November 14, 2009 at 1:01 am

Posted in Posterous

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