FORMER Freeling footballer Jeff Graham is a Barossa, Light & Gawler football premiership player, but on the last day of September his son, Jack, topped his achievement by winning an AFL flag with Richmond.
Mr Graham arrived at the Redlegs in 1993 and played eight seasons at the club, which included the 1994 premiership, but Jack played his junior footy at Tea Tree Gully.
Jack then earned a position in North Adelaide’s development side before being selected by Richmond at the end of last year with pick 53 in the AFL draft.
His first season looked to be a write-off after missing 14 weeks due to a broken ankle, but he recovered and made his debut in round 22 against Fremantle – a day his dad said he’ll never forget.
“It was a very proud moment to see him run out on the ground the first time,” he said.
“We were planning to go and watch him in the VFL, we were going to stay one week, and watch the following week.
“But he got selected in the AFL, and he wasn’t going to be in Victoria, it was going to be in Western Australia, so the club flew us over.”
Five games later, Jack played a vital part in Richmond’s drought-breaking grand final win over the Adelaide Crows, booting three goals in front of more than 100,000 fans on footy’s biggest stage.
He also played a crucial tagging role on star Adelaide midfielder Rory Sloane.
“I just thought he’d be lucky to string a few VFL games together with the ankle,” Mr Graham said.
“To end up in the grand final, playing against Adelaide of all teams, who the family barracks for, it was really surreal.
“We had to swap allegiances this year, and barrack for Richmond.
“The ironic thing is I was a Richmond fan before the Crows came into the competition.”
According to Mr Graham, Jack has proven to be a lucky charm in many finals campaigns in years gone by.
“He’s a bit of a leprechaun, really, he’s played in a grand final every year he’s played,” he said.
“I think he’s got the best-on-ground medal in a lot of them.”
In the rooms post-game, Mr Graham congratulated his son on the win.
“I just said to him, ‘congratulations, mate, that’s your dream come true only in five games’,” he said.
“He said to me the feeling when you kick a goal in these finals, the roar of the crowd just sends shivers up your spine.”
Mr Graham wasn’t the only former Freeling premiership player celebrating their son winning a flag on the day, as Greg Edwards’ son, Shane, was also a part of Richmond’s premiership side.