Footy: The troubles and triumphs of Richo, Part 3

By Domenic Favata


As Matthew Richardson got older, the better he got. Injuries still hampered him but he continued to provide the goals and spirit that Richmond desperately needed.

Richmond were struggling, they had failed to back up their finals appearance from 2001. Sometimes Richo’s tantrums on the field were blooming more often as his Tiger teammates struggled to get the ball to him. But Richardson had gone through this before and would continue to go through it until the day he retired.

Richardson played 13 games in 2002 due to injury and kicked 36 goals at an average of 3 per game. He picked up 12 Brownlow votes in his stand out performances.  Injuries and a lack of games was the only thing that was stopping him from reaching his full potential.

2003 was an average year for Richardson, who played 19 games and kicked 33 goals. He was continuing to smash the competition with marks. He was sublime in the air and could hold onto anything that came his way. Many coaches would tear their hair out looking for a match-up for Richo; nine times of 10 Richo would beat his opponent one on one.

In 2004, a decision to step down from the Tigers’ “leadership group” and focus on additional strength training paid off, with a frenzy of goals in the early part of the season including a career best 10 against the Western Bulldogs. His 10th goal in that game was a spectacular snap from 30 metres out on his left foot that send the crowd into frenzy. I was there during that game and every time Richo marked the ball the crowd would cheer like it was a goal. This was his best ever game. Richardson finished with a tally of 65 goals for the season from 18 games.

2005 was a year of change. Another coach, Terry Wallace was appointed. Focusing on a five-year plan of recruiting and development might have seen Richardson put out of the picture. He was denied the captain’s position, but turned his disappointment into pleasure on the field. The tigers had an average year but Richardson had a consistent year with another 65 goals.

2006 was another year of consistency for both Richmond and Richardson. Richmond finished ninth again but showed signs of development. Richardson backed up his 2005 season with another 45 goals from 18 games. Richardson was getting much better supply from the midfielders and was no longer throwing tantrums on the field. Instead he was inspiring his teammates and this showed right through the course of the year.

Richardson was about to enter the twilight part of his career, but his wasn’t going to derail his form; instead, it was going to be the best part of his career.

Stay Tuned for Part 4

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