March 1992, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia
Mr. President, Mr. Chairman, members of the board, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: Firstly, I, as coach of the Richmond Football Club, I would just like to endorse the remarks of our President and congratulate each and every player, firstly, on making the list and, secondly, for receiving your jumper tonight.
To the young players, I say this. Welcome. I hope that each and every one of you have a very long, happy, and successful stay at the Richmond Football Club.
To the old players, I say this. I just hope, and I know you have received your jumpers on previous years, but I just hope that this year receiving your jumper has much more significance than it has in the past. 'Cause at the end of your career, I hope you can look back and say, "It was this year, the year I received my jumper in 1992, that was the turning point in restoring the pride of the Richmond Football Club."
To all the players, I say this: In receiving your jumper, and it is a great honour today to make a football list, with the list being reduced to smaller numbers each year. And I know there's many disappointed boys that didn't make the list this year. There was a lot of hard decisions in finalising the list. But I say to all the players that did receive a jumper tonight, "Are you prepared to accept the responsibility that goes with receiving the jumper?"
It doesn't matter what position you take in life, there is a certain amount of responsibility attached to it. Even as a parent, we take on that position in our life. There is a certain amount of responsibility. You must, you can't expect your own children not to overindulge in drink and drugs, and cigarettes, and all this business, if you do not set an example.
And the responsibility this year, and particularly to the older players, I say this. This is your responsibility. You must be a real role model for the younger players. It's you who are the ones that must set an example for the young players. It's the method of how you go about your training, the punctuality in getting there, the way you play in a game, when you get three and four goals behind - whether you drop your head and put your tail between your legs.
Whatever you do out in the ground, you've got to set the example for the younger players. That is your responsibility, and that is the question I ask all the senior players here.
Admittedly, the players haven't had a great deal of experience compared with other clubs. We've only got two players that's played over 100 games. But to some of the young players that's been thrust into real positions of responsibility, that is the part that you must understand. The best way to teach anybody is by example, and if the senior players here can really set the example, then it is natural that the young players just follow through.
I say to the young players, this. It is a golden opportunity. It is the best time of your life. Don't waste a moment of it. Fill your boots and make the most of it. Because at the end of your career, you've always got to ask yourself the one question, 'Did I achieve the things I should have achieved with the amount of ability I've been blessed with?'
Unless you can say, "Yes," you'll always end up a frustrated person. All I say is this, "Your football career is very short compared with the rest of your life. It might go for 10 years, if you're fortunate enough to get that long. But at the end of your career, then it only becomes memories of the things that you achieved during your playing career.
So, I say to you, all of you, "Make the most of it." But understand this, because of the rules, and because of the regulations, it is not a permanent position. We've got to keep turning players over if they do not make the grade.
The other thing I must say is this. I've been here six months now, and I must say the enthusiasm has been great here at the club. I have not tried to predict anything at this particular stage. The only thing I said, that I will endeavour to restore the pride of the Richmond Football Club, and make them more competitive.
The last time I spoke to Graeme Richmond, just before his death, he said it would be fabulous to go to the football every Saturday, and know that you've got a chance to win. It would be fabulous to go to the football every Saturday, and just see our players competitive again.
That is my prime objective here. I won't predict how many games we win, but as long as every Saturday that each and every player can walk off the ground, and say, at least, "I gave my best for the Richmond Football Club." Then, at least, I can look them straight in the eye and know that we've set out, we've achieved the things we set out to achieve.
I suppose, being such an important occasion, just on the eve of our first game, I suppose I would like to tell you a little story that had the greatest impact on me of all time. I like to relate it on very special occasions. The story goes something like this:
Once upon a time there was a group of young fellows that had to go on a long trip across some arid land. After they had been travelling for two or three days, they came to a crossroad and when they got to the crossroad, they found that somebody had broken the signpost and left it lying on the ground.
The young group of men did not know which way to turn, so they sat there pondering.
Along came a wise old man and saw the plight of the young fellows. He said, "What is your problem?" They said, "We are on this way to this destination, but we've come to the crossroads, and we found that somebody has broken the signpost, and we do not know which way to turn."
The old man said, "You know which way you come from?"
The group of young fellows said, "Yes, we come from Richmond," and pointed in that direction.
Then the old man said, "That makes it easy." Then he picked up the signpost and with the finger point, he turned it in the direction of Richmond.
And then they knew exactly which way to turn.
Now, the moral of the story is this: If you know where you come from, then you'll always know which way your heading. And that's what it's all about in life. You've got to understand this: That you come to many crossroads in life, and sometimes when you do get to the crossroads, you find there is no signpost there at all. What do you rely on then?
Then you've got to rely on your values. What you were taught in your home, what your faith taught you. All these things that you were taught in your infancy, the values that you have in your life. They're the things that you must rely on, to know which way to turn.
It is the same with your football career. During your career you will come to many crossroads, and you won't know which way to turn. The same in every football match, there is a turning point. There is a crossroad. What do we have to rely on then?
We have to rely on the things that make this club great. You have to rely on your tradition, the cause of the whole thing. These are the things, the indicators, that makes you turn in the right direction, and keep you going when everything tells you to stop.
And this, I hope, will come through the tradition of the club and when these boys receive their jumpers tonight, not only were they receiving their jumper, they were passing on the tradition that was formed by the great players of this club previously. Now it's up to each and every one of those boys, in receiving their jumper, that they carry on the great traditions of this club.
You, the people, the supporters of the club, you stuck to the club. You gave it everything you possibly can, and I can guarantee you one thing: Long as we are competitive out on the field, then we'll be starting to head in the right direction. And that's all I ask of every player.
All I say to you, look out and see that marvellous stand out there. It is a wonderful stand, but it's no good having the best seats in the theatre if we can't put the entertainment on out in the field.
And that is our responsibility.
That is my obligation,
To make sure that we are competitive out in the field, and we do turn this club around, and we do restore the prize.
I just hope that this year will be remembered as the year that we turned Richmond in the right direction.
Thank you, very much.