Premiership Tiger salutes late grandfather

As the Tigers faithful began to celebrate their first AFL flag in 37 years, Richmond youngster Daniel Rioli was thinking of his late grandfather Maurice.


The spectre of the Tigers great had loomed large over Punt Road in the build-up to their grand final triumph.

It had been 35 years since Richmond last played on the final Saturday in September, with Carlton prevailing by three goals in the 1982 premiership decider.

Maurice Rioli made history in that game by becoming the first player from a losing side to win the Norm Smith medal.

The similarities in style between the pair were obvious, and many speculated 20-year-old Rioli could follow in his grandfather’s footsteps by being among the best-on-ground contenders despite only being in his second season.

It wasn’t to be for the Tigers goalsneak but he managed to win something his grandfather never gained – a premiership medal.

Speaking after the game, Rioli said his thoughts instantly went to his beloved grandfather as the Tigers’ achievement dawned upon him.

“It was in the last quarter, for sure,” he said.

“I was on the bench and I could hear the players and coaches saying ‘there’s only three minutes to go’.

“I just thought of my grandfather first up.

“He won the Norm Smith, so playing in the grand final, and wearing the No.17 … I just thought about him.”

The Tigers’ turnaround from finishing 13th last season after only eight wins to premiers this year has been nothing short of remarkable.

Rioli, who plans to return to the Tiwi Islands during the off-season to celebrate with his family, said it was a testament to the closer bonds formed between Tigers players.

“There’s a big connection now,” he said.

“I think last year we weren’t that connected as a group. Now we’ve certainly come together.

“We go to dinner together and celebrate special occasions together, and we’re a tight unit.”