Richmond’s army of supporters roared loudly as Marlion Pickett completed one of the most stunning double acts in AFL history on Saturday at the MCG.
The former Manjimup Tigers player dazzled against the GWS Giants, picking up 22 disposals in the 17.12 (114) to 3.7 (25) grand final rout and was the first player to make his debut in a VFL-AFL grand final since 1952.
Saturday’s victory also meant the Tigers speedster won his second premiership medallion in six days, following his best on ground display in Richmond’s VFL grand final win over Williamstown.
But for Pickett, hearing Tigers supporters roar loudly for him was nothing new, considering his proud record with the Manjimup Tigers Football Club.
Pickett played junior football in Manjimup, and was an integral part in the Tigers’ 2006 colts campaign at just 14.
Former Manjimup Tigers colts coach Gary Hodgson believed Pickett was always an outstanding player and was not surprised by his composure and determination on the biggest stage of all.
“I was not surprised with how unflappable he was,” he said.
“Because he never used to show any nerves or doubts when he played in the colts games, even though he was only 14.
“He was always our first pick when we were short on players. Despite his age, he was just one of those guys you wanted playing for you.”
Hodgson fondly recalls club officials rallying around Pickett and his brothers on game day in order for them to showcase their skills.
“We were never reluctant as coaches to help get them to games or pay their club subscription fees so they could keep playing for us,” he said.
“We had this very talented group of brothers playing for the Tigers and we wanted to keep them in the game and look after them.”
It has been a whirlwind season for Pickett, who began the start of 2019 playing WAFL for South Fremantle. Highly rated throughout WA, Pickett’s form caught the eye of Tigers officials back in Victoria, who selected him with pick 13 in the mid-season rookie draft following the retirement of Shaun Grigg.
Hodgson believed the father of four’s story was a great one which could fill a book.
“He has made the most of the opportunities he has been given and really turned his life around,” he said.
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