Richardson’s Milestone

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 3:55 PM

Ian Richardson is an all-time great of the Claremont Football Club and Tigers fans will pay tribute to his outstanding contribution to the club when he leads the league side into battle against West Perth at Claremont Oval on Saturday afternoon.

The brilliant 30-year-old, whose enormous value to Claremont is often understated because of his impeccable demeanour and professional no-nonsense attitude, will become only the ninth man to play 200 senior matches for the Tigers.

He is also a member of the illustrious group of outstanding Claremont footballers who have appeared in more than 100 winning league matches. There have been more than 1200 men who have represented Claremont in league ranks, but Richardson is one of just 11 who has been on a winning side on one hundred or more occasions.

And another milestone is just around the corner. The dynamic left-footer has scored 381 goals in 195 league appearances and is firmly on target to become the fourth-highest goalkicker in Claremont’s 93-year history. It should be only a matter of time when Richardson overhauls Wayne Harvey’s tally of 389 goals from 217 matches to move into fourth position behind Warren Ralph (564 goals), George Moloney (555) and Chad Jones (404).

Richardson, captain this year after three seasons as vice-captain, also scored four goals in four Foxtel Cup matches and 13 in six appearances for Western Australia.

Richardson is an ornament to the game and is a consummate team player who inspires his teammates with his dedication in his preparation and his fearless and wonderfully skilful play.

“Obviously, getting to 200 is a fair achievement, but it is not something you start out aiming for,” he said. “Our club has been going for a long time, so it’s nice to be part of history and get my name on the 200-club list. And I’m pretty proud to get up there in the goalkicking as well.”

Richardson never dreamt he would achieve as much as he has in a star-studded career during which he has missed just two league matches through injury. And that is due to a major extent by his professional attitude in leaving no stone unturned in preparing his mind and body for every season and every match.

“I’ve been very lucky with injuries and I didn’t miss many games in the colts and reserves as well,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of my teammates miss a lot of games, players like Jake Murphy and Aaron Holt. So, you never take it for granted that you will not get injured. I try to do all I can to keep my body fit and healthy. That’s the most important thing. You’ve got to get to the gym and get strong and prepare well to play at this State league level.”

Richardson was a member of Claremont’s 15’s development squad and was 16 when he broke into the colts side in 2004. He continued with the colts in the following two years and was captain of the side in 2006 when he won the club’s fairest-and-best award and the Jack Clarke Medal as the best player in the WAFL colts competition as well as being chosen in the WAFL colts Team of the Year.

He graduated to the reserves side in 2007 when he finished third in the club’s fairest-and-best award. He then had a spectacular debut season in league ranks in 2008 when he won the fairest-and-best award, the E. B. Cook Medal, and the Simpson Medal as Western Australia’s best player in the interstate match against Queensland in Townsville. He was also Claremont’s leading goalkicker, with 62 majors, and after the extreme disappointment of losing the 2010 grand final by a solitary point to Swan Districts, he was a shining light in Claremont’s premiership triumphs in 2011 and 2012.

Richardson’s high-quality form never waned and he represented his State with distinction in his first six seasons as a league player before he took a year off in 2014 to travel the world. He returned refreshed for the 2015 season and since then has delighted all Claremont supporters with his fierce attack on the ball, his strong tackling and deft disposal by hand and foot.

Richardson, preparing for a tough encounter with West Perth on Saturday, recalls that his league debut was against West Perth at Claremont Oval when he kicked two or three goals and helped the Tigers to win the match. “Kepler Bradley was playing for West Perth and I well remember that he smashed me in a tackle,” he said. Bradley is now an assistant league coach at Claremont and is planning for ways to beat the Falcons this week.

“And I have fond memories of my 150th senior match,” Richardson said. “It was against West Perth at Joondalup and we won by two points after Jake Murphy kicked a goal in the dying minutes to get us into the finals the following week. Hopefully, we can get the same result this week.

“West Perth are a strong outfit; they’ve got a very strong midfield with Shane Nelson, Aaron Black and Luke Meadows, and Tyler Keitel is playing well, up forward. So, we’ve got a big job on our hands --- and I’m looking forward to it.”

Richardson said that he was becoming accustomed to the responsibility of being captain of the Claremont side, saying: “I think I struggled a bit at the start. I haven’t been a captain since I was captain of the colts team in 2006. I’ve been in the leadership group for the past few years, so I had an idea what it was all about. I think I Was trying too much in the first month or so, thinking about other players and over-thinking it a bit.

“I probably wasn’t playing my best footy, and then in the past month or so I’ve simplified it and the best way to lead is to play well and lead by example.” He agreed that moving from a forward flank or pocket to have a turn on a centre wing in recent matches was an enjoyable experience. “Defenders can get comfortable playing on you and obviously the ball is not always in the forward line,” he said. “Therefore, it is good to get involved in the midfield.”

He said that he was coming terms with having to go out and play against West Perth without Beau Maister in the side. “It is very sad to have Beau leave us after 12 years or so of service,” he said. “He’s been a great club stalwart and we’re stoked that we were able to get across the line for him when we beat Swan Districts last Saturday. He’s a legend of a bloke and a legend of a player.

“It’s our aim to qualify for the finals this year. We got off to a slow start and had a disappointing five or six games.  We were definitely under-performing and so we were pretty frustrated with our slow start. Now we seemed to have finally clicked, beating top-three sides South Fremantle and Swan Districts. And we should have beaten Peel as well.”

Richardson has been impressed with the performances of several newcomers, including Dylan Smallwood, Shaquille Morton and Kaiden Gilbert who made splendid league debuts against Swans last Saturday.

“That trio and other debutants this season, including defenders Dec Hardisty and Fraser Gilbert, and a lot of others are going to be the future of the club,” Richardson said.

While the spotlight will be focused on Richardson on Saturday afternoon, powerful midfielder Jye Bolton will be happy to take a back-row seat to the inspirational captain while he (Bolton) celebrates his 50th league appearance for the Tigers.

By Ken Casellas