Bull’s boy ready to swoop for Tigers

Given his talent and pedigree, Matthew Richardson could hardly fail to make an impact at Richmond.  His father was a club legend and a footballing benefactor to the present coach.

Greg Baum reports.

It was more than 30 years ago that John Northey and Alan Richardson came up from the Western District to accelerate Richmond’s rise to power, to play together in the club’s ground-breaking 1967 premiership and to become close friends.

One became “Swooper”, the other “Bull” because that was how they played, but they were hand and glove.

Richardson was a bullocking ruck-rover, slow on his feet but fast with his hands, who understood Len Smith’s radical theory of play-on football and so, along with Polly Farmer, pioneered the handpass as an offensive weapon.  

While he rummaged in the packs, Northey, the long-sleeved, will-o’-the-wisp half-forward, danced around them and profited often and handsomely from Richardson’s mastery of handball.

“He was very handy for me,” said the ever laconic Northey.  “I knew the old Bull very well.  You couldn’t print some of our stories.”

But the best story is still unfolding.  While on a beach holiday at Torquay one summer, Richardson met and fell in love with Dianne Humphries, a champion surfer of that time and so something of a pioneer herself.

They married and settled eventually in Devonport, Tasmania.  There they might have lived anonymously ever after except that as their three children grew, it became clear that their genes had combined in such a way as to produce a rare talent for sport.  

Matthew was a cross-country runner, fast bowler, good enough basketballer to make a state junior team, and particularly a precocious footballer, though he did not surf.  “We don’t get too many waves down here,” said his father, “and it’s a bit cold.”

Matthew’s sister, Samantha, 17, is playing for the Devonport Originals in the Continental (formerly South-Eastern) Basketball Association, and his brother, Andrew, 14, is starting to excel at cricket.

Matthew was just 16 when he first played for Devonport in the high-class Tasmanian statewide competition.  Already, said his coach Peter Knights, he was the fittest, fastest and most athletic player at the club, and was a natural for modern football.

“He was six feet five, could run and run and was very quick.  If he played his style, there was no one who could keep with him.  He took his first game by storm, and from that moment there was no doubt that he was going places,” Knights said.

Matthew was impatient for success, remembered Knights, and sometimes liable to become frustrated when it was delayed even momentarily, for instance by a poor umpiring decision.  “I had to bench him a few times to calm him down a bit,” he said.

Matthew polled 11 votes in the William Leech Medal in his first season, and by then the AFL clubs, already aware of his exploits in the Teal Cup, were circling greedily.

But within that modern football body there beat an old-fashioned heart, and it beat only for Richmond.  Matthew had seen only a snatch of videotape of his father in action, and since he was only five when the Tigers won their last premiership in 1980, his memory of it was necessarily dim.

But he regularly leafed through his father’s scrapbooks, listened to his stories and took a shine to the Tigers that the club’s travail of the ‘80s could not dull.  “You’ve got to keep supporting your team, you don’t throw it in just because they’ve lost a few games,” he said.

Knights, recognising the depth of Matthew’s passion for Richmond, urged the Tigers to exercise the father-and-son rule and secure his destiny.  He knew that Matthew was ready for league football, was aware of the fabulous sums he was being offered on the sly not to sign for Richmond, and was anxious not have his young star distracted from a forthcoming finals series

Richmond officials did not have much to tempt Richardson with as they sat down with him and his father at the MCG one gloomy Saturday night two years ago.  The Tigers had just been given a hiding by Adelaide, and now they were presenting Richardson with what must have seemed to both parties a modest contract.  

Richardson senior, careful always to guide his son rather than push him, suggested that he contemplate it at home in Devonport.  “No, I’ve always wanted to play for Richmond.  I’ll sign now,” the young man reportedly said.  Richmond football manager Doug Vickers, who was at the meeting, swears there was a tear in the old Bull’s eye.

That summer, Richardson moved to Melbourne and Northey became coach of Richmond.  He could scarcely have failed to have been impressed by old Bull’s offspring.  Matthew was invariably in the first six in the sprints, won the club’s time trial around the tan track, and he could play football.

Matthew was fast-tracked into the senior team, played 14 games and kicked 31 goals last year, and now, said Northey, was an automatic selection.  Northey’s position demands that he is tempered in his enthusiasm; to others, Matthew is the embodiment of football in the ‘90s.

Matthew was not yet a superstar, said Northey.  He still suffered from the youthful malaise of inconsistency, and he kicked like his father, reluctantly and unreliably.  Matthew worked assiduously on his kicking over the summer with Richmond assistant coach Peter Schwab, and in a practice match against Fitzroy last weekend began with two points, then kicked eight straight goals.

The son of Bull is also an earnest and devoted son of Tasmania, who modelled himself on that other great Tasmanian Tiger, Royce Hart; whose suggested improvement to AFL football is a team from the Apple Isle and whose favourite sportsman is David Boon.

Whether Matthew Richardson has arrived to build an era for the Tigers, like his father and his coach before him, is too soon to say.  A winning season would be fine just now.  But one day the history books may show that the best handpass Bull Richardson ever gave Northey was his elder son.

[Date and paper unknown]

Kellaway:  Tiger, Tiger shining bright

Herald Sun, Mike Sheahan - Saturday 18 June 1994

IF you’re not Duncan Kellaway, which is highly likely, read on, please.  Duncan, put the paper aside ‘til tomorrow; match-day stories have a history of mozzing their subjects.

They say young Kellaway is unflappable; unfussed by any obstacle on or off the field, but modern football is about minimising risks.

You can tell that they like Kellaway at Richmond.  He has been around the place for years, originally in a schoolboy squad before graduating to the under 19s, then the reserves and finally the senior team.

He and Matthew Richardson made their debut on the same day, the seventh round clash with St Kilda at the MCG last year, when Kellaway amassed 27 possessions.

He was overshadowed by the exciting Richardson that day; Richardson was in the reserves on Monday, the day Kellaway played a big part in the club’s rousing win over Collingwood in front of 62,000 people at the MCG.

Those in high places at Punt Road liked him so much this year, they gave him the No. 3 guernsey worn by former captain and premiership rover Dale Weightman.

They have played him on opponents including Chris Grant (Footscray), Peter Sumich (West Coast), Dale Lewis (Sydney), Earl Spalding and Greg Williams (Carlton), Gary Ablett (Geelong) and Nathan Buckley (Collingwood).  

As Richmond’s State League coach and former Hawthorn premiership player Peter Schwab said yesterday:  “We’ve given him some terrible jobs.”

He has beaten some, lost to a few, broken even with others. What has been consistent is his readiness to tackle the tasks, and his application and endeavour.

It’s back to the MCG this afternoon for North Melbourne.  His assignment is likely to be Wayne Schwass, North vice-captain and most dynamic player in the absence of the suspended Wayne Carey.

If it’s not Schwass, it will be one of North’s most dangerous forwards:  McAdam, Crocker or Campbell

I like stories about young men like Kellaway, from suburban Glen Waverley and Caulfield Grammar, a boy who seems to believe there is only one thing better than playing football, and that’s playing again the following week.

The people of Punt Road talk of him as the ideal young man around a footy club.  Pity about his kicking, but who’s perfect?

The irony of his kicking is that his uncle, Annette Kellaway’s brother, is John Beckwith, the former Melbourne captain who could land the ball on an orange peel.  

Schwab told Kellaway last year: “The only thing that will stop you is your kicking.”  To the surprise of no one, Kellaway immediately started remedial work under Schwab.

Schwab was the ideal teacher, a man who fashioned himself into a most competent player, one capable of becoming whatever Hawthorn needed during his time during the most successful club era in AFL history.  

“He’ll hit his target seven out of 10 now,” Schwab said yesterday.

Schwab described him as “supertough”, likening him to former champion Hawthorn and Footscray centreman Terry Wallace.

“He’s one of the most courageous players I’ve seen”, Schwab said.

Little wonder then that Francis Bourke, chairman of selectors and former champion and inspiration, is such a fan.  Richmond’s Doug Vickers said:  “Francis just loves him.

“If you beat him, you beat him.  I remember watching him in the under 19s.  He’d get a blood nose every week; you just had to love him.

'He's never a problem.  Even when he tries a pair of boots on, he'll say 'they're right' even if they're not perfect.'

It seems that Kellaway, 21, has thrilled everyone with his progress, from the Richmond hierarchy, to 3AW commentator and former coach Kevin Bartlett, to family friends.

Helen Hendrie, wife of former Hawthorn premiership half-forward, John Hendrie, and mother of Kellaway’s friend and classmate, Andrew Will, said:  'He's just the sweetest boy; so unaffected by the whole thing.'