THE big role a tiny south-west Victorian town played in his rise from promising junior to AFL premiership player is not lost on Richmond defender David Astbury.
The resolute backman praised Tatyoon – a powerhouse Mininera and District league club – after playing in the Tigers’ drought-breaking flag on Saturday.
“Tatyoon is my home and on days like today I get so proud of where I’m from and the people that helped faciliate and support my career, I couldn’t be more happier about that,” Astbury said in the jam-packed MCG rooms following the Tigers’ 48-point rout of Adelaide.
“It was everything for me growing up and it seems small now that I live in Melbourne and play for the Richmond footy club but it’s still every bit as important.”
Astbury, who played in two under 16 flags for Tatyoon before joining TAC Cup club Greater Western Victoria Rebels, has overcome knee, thumb and even a stringray sting injuries during his eight-year AFL career.
“Adversity is sometimes a good thing,” he said.
“Whether it’s injury, or form or personal issues, and I’ve seen a fair bit of all of it, but I’ve just got people around me who are just so supportive and I am just so proud of them as much as they are proud of me.”
Astbury said Richmond was proud of its rapid rise.
The Tigers climbed from 13th in 2016 to premiers in the space of 12 months with the 85-game veteran crediting coach Damien Hardwick for the turnaround.
“Dimma was a catalyst for our culture,” he said.
“I was drafted the year he came in and he’s very special to me. This year in particular he’s let himself show a bit of emotion with how much we mean to him and sometimes as a player that’s what you really want.”
Astbury, who spent most of the game on Adelaide skipper Taylor Walker, negating his impact, said he started to celebrate the Tigers’ triumph once time-on clicked over in the fourth term.
“I am a process-driven character and know this game is so imperfect and it can change very quickly, so I wasn’t getting carried away (before that),” he said.
“I just love the fact that we’ve come from a place where no one really gave us any opportunity.”
Fellow Greater Western Victoria Rebels exports Shaun Grigg, Dan Butler and Daniel Rioli joined Astbury as Richmond premiership players.
Butler, 21, said he was “still pinching myself” after winning a premiership in just his 23rd game.
He became part of the Tigers’ fleet-footed small forward brigade, alongside Rioli and Jason Castagna in 2017 after waiting two seasons to make his senior debut.
The speedster said he was grateful for the time and energy his junior clubs and coaches put into his development.
“Both the Lake Wendouree football club and the Rebels had a huge impact and I couldn’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me and my school, St Pat’s, under Howard Clark has been unbelievable,” Butler said.
“I wouldn’t be here today without all them, not only with football but for shaping me as the person I am today.”
Rioli also attended St Patrick’s College Ballarat – a school endorsed as a launching pad to the AFL.
It was everything for me growing up and it seems small now that I live in Melbourne and play for the Richmond footy club but it’s still every bit as important.David Astbury