Congratulations to Ed Richards – Western Bulldogs Draft 2017 – No 16

Congratulations to Ed Richards – Western Bulldogs Draft 2017 – No 16

Congratulations to Ed Richards – Western Bulldogs Draft 2017 – No 16

It all started in 2005 when a bunch of parents took their boys to Glenferrie Oval to start their budding career as 5-6 year olds. What was evident that there were a lot of Hawthorn jumpers and then a sprinkling of Pies, Saints, Swans and Blues! A number of these boys all came together from different primary schools but had one thing in common: their Auskick journey would lead to the Hawthorn Citz journey and eventually becoming part of very successful group of Citz boys with families who became friends and remained friends going forward.

One boy always stood out. A little redheaded boy named Ed (Random) who wore a Collingwood old school jumper that his grandmother gave to him and who always showed lightning speed.  There was some link to the famous ‘Richards’ name but that was never an entitlement as this boy was always going to follow his own football path. Even his old man Kane was a good bloke who never pushed his kid to do things he did not enjoy, to the contrary he has been involved but extremely encouraging!

This boy could read the play extremely well, had a wonderfully ‘shimmy’ and was able to mark, kick and handball with ease at a very young age.  All Auskick coaches and Citz coaches and parents have seen the rise and rise of Ed Richards into an AFL drafted player.

The progression from Auskick to Junior Footy with Hawthorn Citizens was smooth. Ed, as part of one of the most successful bunch of junior Citz boys, were undefeated in 2 years, won U10 Gold 2009, U11 Gold 2010 and were Grand Finalist U12 Gold 2011. Ed was always instrumental in any team and his versatility meant that his coaches in his Citz‘ days could always put him in any spot to not fill gaps but rather drive and set up play as he has done so well in his most recent footy exploits. Hi skill and ability to understand the match meant a number of rewards around these years with a B&F in 2009 and selection for YJFL representative sides in 2010-2014.  Ed often had a tagger on him but his speed and guile often meant that he could break loose and either play forward, back or just continue to rack up possessions in the middle. 

He was selected for Oakleigh Chargers but at that stage, he still was seen as cut from the ‘Richards’ stature: very strong, tough, skillful but…. too short. At those times, the heavy focus was on athleticism and height and not necessarily football nouse and even after impressing the selectors with his deft skill, reading of the play and guile, the measurements just did not stack up… he was cut from the Chargers squad. Any other kid who loved their footy and saw their dream be shattered would cry, sulk and feel sorry for himself but Ed in his non-stressed ‘random’ way would say, oh well, their loss and I will just focus on Club, School and enjoy playing footy with my mates.

A great lesson for any budding junior player: enjoy your footy, being with your mates and listen to your coaches to become better and better.

Ed played at Boroondara Hawks and Carey Grammar and was quickly becoming a leader in both teams. When he was 15 he quickly started to make an impact at the Hawks as well as playing well for Carey with a call up to train with Carey XVIII in that year. The school saw that this boy had some real talent and it needed to be challenged. His strong performances at both Club and School led to another invite from Oakleigh Chargers to join the temporary squad where most kids would get cut from the program. He turned up to Chargers training and this apparent ‘short arse’ had shot up 15 cms and was not little anymore. To the contrary, Ed was growing and there was no stopping. If they only asked his mum Carey about her family… Couple of 6” + uncles was always going to lead to this boy  becoming 6”2 and still growing. 

Ed showed his class with his beautiful left foot, strong sense of play and attacking flair out of the backline. He is strong on both sides of the body and the Vic Metro selectors started to notice. He was certainly in the mix but an unfortunate fall on his knee, saw it bruised and needing rest for a few weeks which meant that he could not be selected for the National Championships. However, the Vic Metro coaches always said that they would monitor him and wanted him to recover fully so he could play in the U18 competition for Oakleigh. 

Ed was a pillar in the school team and he was Vice Captain of Carey Grammar XVIII in 2017 where they came second in the APS competition behind the undefeated Hailebury. His form at school, growing into his body, his support by good Oakleigh Chargers coaches and mentors resulted in him having a break out 2017 and becoming the bolter of the draft. Ed focused on VCE and made sure he did as well as he could do! School comes first!

From being considered as a possible rookie pick at the start of the season, his form for the Chargers saw him as first picked each week (when not clashing with APS footy). He rose and rose to finally on 24 November being called out by Bevo and the recruitment team that Ed Richards was selected as Pick No. 16 in the AFL Draft 2017!  He will have the Bont as his mentor and the future looks bright.

Ed Richards, congratulations, we all, at Hawthorn Auskick, Hawthorn Citizens, Boroondara Hawks, Oakleigh Chargers and Carey Grammar are so proud of you. A real testimony of your attitude, desire to improve but always be grounded, has given you now the opportunity to play AFL footy!  Well done Ed we salute you!

Rod Croes

26 November 2017