My first (woollen) Richmond Jumper

Nick Stafford 2 Richmond jumpers, a sister & Kevin Sheedy's Sherrin

Two Richmond jumpers, a sister, and Kevin Sheedy’s Sherrin

 

 

 

Nick Stafford Peter & Nick tog up for Richmond

Peter and Nick tog up for Richmond

NIck Stafford It still fits!

It still fits

 

 

This jumper was a birthday present given to me when I turned 6, so  the number my mother sowed on the back was 6. I didn’t know or care who number 6 for Richmond was, I didn’t have a favourite player. A little later, and not because of his playing ability, I became, much to my father’s horror (Dad: “he’s a thug”) a fan of Mr Kevin Sheedy.

My idolizing of Mr Sheedy began during the biggest occasion of the footy season: a footy clinic at our local oval. Dozens of us turned up to meet a REAL footballer, none other than Mr Kevin Sheedy. He showed us how to hold the ball to do a drop punt, how to drop it onto the foot, and then he made us move out of his way so he could demonstrate this art.

Like two rows of players lined up to honour a retiring great, but fanning outwards, we watched in awe as the great Kevin Sheedy trotted in and kicked the ball….straight off the side of his boot. I was the last child on the line furthest away from him, and the mongrel ball hit me flush in the face. He followed through, jogged over to me, and gently said; “That is why you always have to have your wits about you on the footy field son.” I was embarrassed about my slow reflexes but exhilarated that the great Kevin Sheedy had spoken directly to me.

“Mum, mum, Kevin Sheedy hit me in the face with a football”

A couple of years after that I joined the Richmond Little League team. There were so many boys that a spine played every week while the rest of us were fitted in on the pockets, flanks, and wings once in the season. So I was there for two seasons, and played two games. Back then the little league used the whole ground so it was a miracle if the ball actually got to every part of the field in each game. As it was I didn’t touch the ball in either game but just being there on the day, going into the rooms, then standing in a line as the players came back out onto the field for the second half, was a huge thrill.

But what I remember most was the night at training the great Kevin Sheedy wandered onto the ground twirling a brand new Sherrin in his hand. Perhaps he had learned from his experience with me because this time he did not demonstrate the art of a drop punt, but he did tell us the four steps involved in doing it well. I can’t recall what they were, but I do remember that instead of demonstrating the kick he asked us at the end: “So what are the 4 steps to kick a drop punt?”

One boy shot up his hand, but got the answer wrong. I then shot up mine and got it right. He acknowledged my correct answer by handballing the brand new Sherrin to me; “Well done son, this is yours.” Perhaps it was footy karma for being hit in the head by Mr Sheedy a few years earlier. I was thrilled beyond words.

“Mum, mum, Kevin Sheedy gave me a brand new football.” (Dad: “He’s still a thug”)

The skills I learned, from Mr Sheedy and from the Richmond Little League served me well in my school boy football career. The jumper, minus the number and the hippy peace sign I got mum to sew onto the front yellow slash above my heart have fallen off, but the jumper still serves as a reminder of not just of my loyalty to my team, but the year I fell in love with Richmond, as a 5 year old boy in 1970, and it still fits, sort of.

About Nick Stafford

Played two games for Richmond in the mid-70s -- Little League, didn't touch the ball once.

Comments

  1. Magnificent haircut. I had one of those.

    Judging by the car in the background you were a Ford family. We were Holden.

  2. Kate Birrell says

    So funny, love the pics, and that 70’s glow

  3. Well played, Nick.
    And it’s great to see that the jumper still does fit.

  4. MVPYhxdNLo5ah7ge6tlxNWpIFfIcBmi5du2wMQWtmxw. says

    great read nick, I reckon you could have been a champion, the little league probably played you out of position….keep the faith re the tigers mate

  5. Haje Halabi says

    woops sorry nick that was me before then, I logged in under another search engine, again keep the faith mate

  6. Drop KIck says

    Thanks for the responses everyone, appreciated very much

    Nick

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