Matty Richardson is known to the people on the ridge. To every one of us.

When he was in his prime – fast, unstoppable, winning matches, splitting packs, dominating the air- one of the kids from up here got cancer. Denis was the oldest of six, from a battler’s family, up in the cold drizzle and mist of Beech Forest. He’s teeth pointed everywhere, but made for a great, likeable grin.

He was only 12, or thereabouts, and things weren’t looking too good. Nobody knew if he’d survive the chemo or not.

Somebody, somehow, managed to contact the team he barracked for, the Tigers, and arranged for him to meet the players.

In the rooms after the match, the team lined up. One-by-one, they shook his hand, and wished him luck. Except Richo.
Richmond’s pin-up boy and one true star sat down and talked to the kid.

And talked with the kid.

And talked.

All the other players showered, gelled up and left. Eventually, the trainers packed up and moved on. The cleaners came and went. Two hours came and went. No press, no photos, Just Richo and the kid.

Denis made it. I ended up coaching him in junior footy. His health was never quite right. He got injured a lot, and gave it away a few years later, but so what?

A brief stint working in touristy Apollo Bay, and he’s now back up on the ridge, in the fog, doing a chef’s apprenticeship in the kitchen of a small mountain town’s only pub.

He is one of the best young blokes you could meet..

Every time I see him, I spare a thought for Richo. Every time I see Richo on telly, I think: there’s a top bloke! (who could also mark a bit)


  1. Where’s ‘The Ridge’ Matt?

    Nothing nicer than the beech forest in the snow with the currawongs stalking you under the canopy in the still winter chill.

  2. Brilliant

  3. matt zurbo says

    Phantom, hi mate. Nah, the blurb men got it wrong. The Ridge is in Vico. As for which ridge, pick one.

    Yeah, Beech Forest is hard and cold and a ripper place with some top footy mates, a hell of a lot of cows, and many logging track memories. It’s not much more than a 3/4s empty pub these days, but I damn love it, still and always.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great Heart warming Peice as usual Matt where are stories like this re So called
    Bad Role Models granted you have beffoons like Fevola and Martin re Brownlows but there are far more good than bad Richo must be right up there with the best tho as stories like this are consistent about the Big Fella
    In Sa Chris McDermott does a amazing job with Little Heroes I can feel a M Zurbo story there and Rick Neagle ex Norwood and David Holst ex Glenelg are vital components re
    Dignity for Disability
    The More Stories Like this told the better ! Thanks Matt

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