Player tribute: Vale Grigga

So the band won’t ever get back together.

 

There’s always a note of sadness when one of your stalwarts retires. But Shaun Grigg’s announcement that he’s quitting AFL football, effective immediately, provoked in me an additional pang of regret. His is the first departure of Richmond’s 2017 Premiership 22. For 591 days after the Grand Final, I hung on the faint possibility that Richmond could overturn the old adage that Premiership teams never play together again. But it’s not to be.

 

Grigga was one of those “under the radar” players that good teams often have. Think Peter Curran, Joel Corey, Luke Power. When opposition sides put hours into nullifying the champions, they’re often burnt by these guys who consistently deliver. Grigg finishes his career of 214 games averaging 21 possessions, five marks and half a goal per game. The raw numbers are impressive enough but they understate the skill, cleverness and versatility he brought to Richmond.

 

Grigg’s maturity and deceptive size were invaluable when he came from Carlton to Punt Road in 2011 to bolster the skinny young group that Damien Hardwick was developing. The move was criticised by many at the time. Why was Richmond compromising a rebuild by offloading a promising home-grown player like Andy Collins for a mature player whose reputation included serious questions about skill and hardness at the contest? Well history shows pretty clearly which club fared better in that particular trade!

 

But Grigga proved more than just a stop-gap player during those tough early years. Such was his consistency and reliability that he would have been one of the first picked throughout his time at Richmond. This of course includes our Premiership year in which Grigg was famously re-invented as a pinch-hitting second ruckman in addition to his duties as an attacking midfielder.

 

In the tributes that have flowed for Grigga over the last couple of days, the abiding one for me is about his smartness as a footballer. It seemed to apply both to the way he got the best out of himself over his career, but also to the role he played within the team tactically and as a motivator. Evidently, he was a great clubman, that cheeky grin just the window to a witty, lively personality that endeared him to all and sundry.

 

The timing of Grigg’s retirement is, no doubt, linked to Richmond’s current injury woes and the club’s desire to participate in the mid-season draft. Such is the brutal reality of the modern game. But that pressure aside, the nature of Grigg’s departure reflects his time as a player – pragmatic, down-to-earth and always with the best interests of his club and team-mates at heart.

 

Thanks Grigga.

 

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About Sam Steele

Stainless (aka Sam Steele) started following Richmond in 1970 when he was 6. This occurred when his mother, under instructions to buy him a Melbourne jumper, found they were out of stock and purchased a Richmond one instead. Despite the decades of heartache and turmoil this fateful decision has brought on Stainless, after 30 September 2017 and 28 September 2019, his mum is now officially his favourite person.

Comments

  1. Cheryl Critchley says

    Well said Stainless. Shaun Grigg was the ultimate team player and worked so hard to improve his game and become an integral part of a drought-breaking flag. He’ll forever be known as a premiership player.

  2. Tony Tea says

    Vale? He didn’t die.

  3. Jarrod_L says

    Agree entirely, Stainless. An invaluable member of the side – not just in 2017 either – well liked and respected, his legacy may not be the biggest, but it will be lasting.

  4. Graeme Gardner says

    I’m pleased that Grigga has called it a day. He was fantastic for the Tigers for a number of years and outstanding in 2017. It was going to be struggle to get back given his injuries, and I would have hated to see him jogging around trying to get a kick with injuries hampering him. Much better that he goes out having played so well, and being remembered for that, rather than struggling to get kick. Well done Grigga – great memories!!!

  5. Ben The Artist says

    A very fitting and nice tribute to a player who I’m glad to have seen play while also making valuable contribution to some good times and cherished experiences. Thank you Grigga.
    And thank you Sam for writing.

  6. Stainless says

    Thanks for the comments all and nice to see Grigga chaired off the ground yesterday.

    Tony Tea – hate to be a pedantic Latin scholar but “vale” simply means “farewell”. it doesn’t just apply to dead people :)

  7. Graeme Gardner says

    Wow! Not only have I been able to write read great things about Grigga here, make a comment myself, but today as I was riding over THAT bridge looking down over the MCG I actually met Grigga and was able to express my sentiments, shake his hand and thank him in person!!!

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