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Tasmanian Tiger for life: The Matthew Richardson story

Max Westwood new author
Roar Rookie
1st October, 2023
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Max Westwood new author
Roar Rookie
1st October, 2023
4

A kid with a dream.

That’s all Matthew Richardson was growing up East Davenport in the early 1970s, sharing the mutual dream of all footy fanatics to one day play AFL football.

Unable to see his father’s career at Richmond, he knew the tales of his dad’s legend at the club and made a concerted effort to make the boat journey over to see live Richmond games.

“I probably came to Melbourne once a year, my grandparents lived in Cheltenham in Melbourne, so we would come over in school holidays, so we’d normally go to a Richmond game at the MCG,” Richardson said.

Inspired by the trips to Melbourne, at 15 years of age Richardson made the decision to chase that dream with a relentless passion, knowing he had to give it his all to make football into a career.

Despite the internal self-belief that he was good enough to play footy in the big smoke, he didn’t have his hunch confirmed until standing out in the then titled TEAL Cup, now called the AFL Under-19 Championships.

“My second year of the TEAL Cup, that was when I thought, no I know I can do this now,” the now Channel Seven commentator said.

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With many recruiters chomping at the bit for the then 18-year-old’s coveted signature, all of their attempts were futile as Richardson was always going to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“At the end of the day it was always going to be Richmond,” Richardson said.

Over a monumental 16-year career for the Tigers, Richardson played 282 games and kicked 800 goals, amassing a plethora of awards including kicking the most goals at the MCG and making three All-Australian teams.

Nearly accompanying that success was an unlikely run at the 2008 Brownlow Medal, when Richardson played the majority of the season on the wing.

With that move nearly making Richardson one of the most feel-good Brownlow winners of all time, he understood that the move onto the wing was one for the development of another Tasmanian Richmond forward, Jack Riewoldt.

“The first few rounds of 2008 I was playing in the forward line, but we had Jack Riewoldt as well and Terry Wallace, the coach, just wanted to give him a little bit more opportunity,” Richardson said.

“He basically didn’t give me an option, either play on the wing or probably not play at all.”

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With Riewoldt now a three-time premiership player for Richmond and Richardson having one of the more successful seasons of his career, the move certainly paid off.

After an early season hamstring injury and subsequent surgery in 2009, retirement was on the cards and Richardson was now searching for a career post-football.

“I probably panicked a little bit and thought what I am going to do next year? And I rang my manager, and he said let’s try and get you a few little guest spots in the media,” Richardson said.

Two weeks after announcing his retirement at the end of 2009, Richardson was offered positions to be a part of the Channel Seven and 3AW media teams, which he is still an integral part of to this day.

Since his retirement, Richardson’s beloved Richmond Tigers have managed to win three premierships with him being able to share a special moment with the team in 2017.

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Matthew Richardson

(Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

“I was lucky enough to be able to present the cup to Hardwick and Cotchin, I mean walking up to the dais holding the cup and the Richmond army in the background just sort of going berserk… I’ll never forget that.

“Hair on the back of your neck sort of stuff, once in a lifetime sort of feeling, doubt I’ll ever get that feeling again.”

From growing up in Eastern Launceston to making the AFL Hall of Fame and his name being synonymous with the club his dad played for, Richardson couldn’t see it being any other way.

“I can’t ever see myself being involved in another club, that’s for sure,” Richardson said.

That dream Richardson had as a kid sure did pay off.

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