In Praise of Trent Cotchin

“Who’s your favourite player, dad?”

It’s a question that stumps me.

“I don’t have favourite players, mate”, I say, rather sheepishly.  “Royce Hart was my hero as a kid, but I’ve never had favourites since then”.  Billy gives me a glare and I hastily mutter something about admiring Lenny Hayes.  But it’s clear my hesitant response to such a basic question isn’t acceptable.

Happily for young William, his dad’s po-faced attitude could be about to change.

Late in the final quarter, and the MCG is pulsing with the excitement of 34,000 Richmond fans.  We’re savouring a rare treat.  Junk time, our team 6, then 7, then 8 goals to the good and victory over Fremantle assured.  We laugh as our beleaguered young backline starts to play with unaccustomed swagger.  After weeks of unrelenting pressure, they’re loving these brief moments when they know a mistake isn’t going to cost their team dearly.

There’s been lots to like about this win.  Twenty-three goals shared among 10 players against good quality opposition. Robin Nahas has played the game of his life, garnering an improbable 30 possessions and four goals.  Our leaders – Newman and Deledio have been OK but not stellar.  Much of the drive has come from the lesser lights. And we’ve cruised to victory despite the much promoted “don’t argue” man, Dustin Martin, being tagged to the point of having minimal impact on the game.

It’s been a perfect day for someone who prefers the “team effort” to the match winning individual. But to my surprise, what I’m finding most enjoyable is the emergence of (I hope) a genuine superstar of the competition.  I’m talking about Trent Cotchin.

Since he was chucked in the deep end with an 11th hour selection against the all-powerful 2008 Geelong, – and swam with composure beyond his years – we knew that the kid had a special talent.  Frustratingly, his first three years have been limited by injury and interrupted pre-seasons.  Not in 2011.  Today I reckon I’ve seen “Cotch” demonstrate that indefinable quality that goes beyond talent and that separates the champions from the merely very good players.  The game was an arm-wrestle for nearly three quarters, and as Richmond made the decisive break with a run of goals either side of the final change, Cotchin was the man imposing himself on the game and willing his team to victory more than any other.

“He reminds me of a cat”, I exclaim at one point, and then have to ponder why.  I see it in his stride, slightly crouched, relaxed but purposeful; his attack on the ball, quietly merciless; his deft footwork and balance in evading packs and breaking tackles (and that last quarter goal, preceded by a delicate pas de deux in the goalsquare).

But I also see it in his manner.  Our last champion – our wonderful, lovable Richo –  played like a big athletic dog, bounding around with total devotion to the cause, but as likely to damage as create.  Cotchin plays like a cat, so sure of his physical capabilities that he can use every bit of time and space to plan and execute his next play to greatest effect.  Only the very best players can play the game on these terms.

The bonus with Cotchin is the leadership he’s displaying in a team that for so long has lacked strong leaders.  I observed it last year as he cajoled and rallied his team mates as if he were the captain.  It seems to come naturally to him in a way that it hasn’t to so many of Richmond’s recent top players.

I’ve watched enviously over the years as such players have emerged at other clubs – Judd, McLeod, Carey, Ablett the younger (Ablett the elder was not such a player).  I can’t remember a player like this at Richmond since our halcyon days.  I’m usually reluctant to make a big call like this, and I sure hope I’m not putting the moz on him, but I reckon the Tigers have got themselves a beauty.  He’s certainly my new favourite.

About Sam Steele

50 years a Richmond supporter. Enjoying a bounteous time after 37 years of drought. Should've been a farmer!


  1. Martin Reeves says

    Good read Sam. I still think we’ve got a lot of holes to fill in our list, but we’ve also got some players such as Cotchin and Martin who could become genuine stars of the league. Exciting times.

    A win against the Dogs will set up a big match v the Bombers. I think our winning run might end this week though, which may not be a bad thing for all concerned.

  2. Alovesupreme says

    It’s good to see Cotchin beginning to fulfil his promise. I’m pretty sure he’s good mates with Matt Kreuzer (from the same junior team, iirc), whose progress came to a grinding halt with his knee injury. I hope that the Kreuz (sp.) can pick up and that both can get the rewards that their talent and apparent effort warrant.

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