Grand Final – Adelaide v Richmond: Crows mauled by a pair of SA Tigers

 

By Peter Argent

 

South Australia is in darkness and mourning.

 

I hark back to the state-wide blackout we endured last year that embarrassed us all.

 

But there is some light filtering through at the end of the tunnel, courtesy of a pair proud Richmond premiership players.

 

A couple of South Australian exports who are a bookends of their respective careers played key roles in the Tigers’ brilliant victory over Adelaide on AFL Grand Final day.

 

Both indigenous talent Shane Edwards and 2016 South Australian state Under 18 captain Jack Graham have a huge connection to South Australian football and former league footballers with the North Adelaide Roosters, both in their mid-teenage years.

 

Edwards is a great story or persistence at Punt Road and his football heritage includes the best of both worlds.

 

From his paternal side his grandfather, Doug, father, Greg, uncle Russell and brother, Kym are all SANFL footballers.

 

Doug played with the Roosters and West Torrens in the 1950s. Greg, who is significantly taller than his sons, played 43 games for Central District, kicking 100 goals in the 1982 season for the Bulldogs (and played a couple of games in the seconds that year). In a freak accident he lost the sight in one of his eyes in a trial game the following season.

 

Greg’s sibling Russell had to move across to Port Adelaide to play league footy.

 

Shane’s brother Kym, who played in the same style, had a long apprenticeship in the reserves before playing league football in 2015.

 

His indigenous heritage comes from his mother Tara’s side of the family.

 

Interestingly, while Shane played league football in ’06 – in the team that included Sam Jacobs and Lindsay Thomas – he received limited opportunities at Under 18 state level being benched during his last couple of games with South Australia.

 

Despite that he was still drafted by the Tigers with selection number 26 in that year and played the first of his 207 AFL games to this point the following season.

 

Edwards has been a stalwart of the Tigers for over a decade now.

 

A consistent performer in a number of “Dreamtime” games, Edwards was one of the most creative by hand and ever-present players during the 2017 finals series.

 

Nick-named “Tich” Edwards he is now headed into Tigers football and “Edwards” family folklore.

 

Jack Graham was playing his fifth game of AFL football, his third during this year’s finals series after making his AFL debut late in the regular season.

 

The youngest of the 44 players on the ground at 19, Graham delivered the same coolness and composure that he displayed leading his state at Under 15 schoolboys, Under 16 and Under 18 level.

 

Despite winning the Larke Medal last year (best and fairest in the national under 18s competition) and first playing SANFL footy as a 16-year-old, the recruiting staff at most clubs ignored him.

 

Richmond would finally snaffle him at pick number 53 and in retrospect this would prove to be canny selection. Graham played with the maturity of a seasoned footballer and for the first time in his senior career kicked three goals in a game, which dad Jeff proudly confirmed in the Richmond change rooms after the games.

 

His father Jeff was a league footballer with West Torrens and the first two seasons of the amalgamated Eagles in the SANFL, playing 77 games and being noted as a key position player – predominantly a centre half back and also a good couple of inches taller than his AFL premiership winning son.

 

Interestingly both fathers also have a connection with the Freeling Football Club in the Barossa Light and Gawler (BLG) Football Association, an hour or so north of Adelaide.

 

Greg Edwards, after the loss of his vision went to play with the Redlegs under former Bulldogs team mate and hard man, Ian ‘Scratcher’ McKay.

 

He developed into a classy midfielder, despite his impairment and during that epoch Freeling the dominant side in the competition winning three successive flags and winning 40 games in a row during a famous sequence.

 

Starring in the BLG Greg, or Meggy’s to his mates, endeavoured to return to SANFL football in 1985, but after one pre-season match, Alan Stewart, the reserves coach at the time, wasn’t prepared to risk him in the cut and thrust of 1980s SANFL football.

 

Greg Edwards after a strong business career was the CEO of Port Adelaide Magpies for a period, and is currently in the same role with the North Adelaide Roosters.

 

Jeff Graham moved to the Freeling Football Club in 1993 and played the following eight seasons at the club being a member of the 1994 premiership victory over the Willaston Donnybrooks, the Redlegs’ last flag to this point.

 

Certainly there is a strong SA connection to Richmond’s drought breaking 11th premiership.

 

Read more pieces about the Grand Final HERE.

Comments

  1. Thanks Peter. Shane – now Titch – has been an enigma at Tigerland. More famous for his unsettling set shots than his twinkling footwork. He avoided the former on Saturday, and brought the very best of the latter.

    And we’ll have all the Jack Grahams you can send us.

  2. Fascinating read, Peter. It’s funny how things can pan out for footy clubs/states. Graham was a star in only his fifth game, kicking 3 goals in a winning Grand Final is brilliant. And to be taken at pick 53? Scary. Edwards played his part so well with 25 touches. These two players are so indicative of Richmond’s team effort. I can’t help but be very impressed by Richmond’s approach to 2017.

  3. Thanks for the backstory about these heroes x

Leave a Comment

*