A Decade On: Richard Maloney

 

“We wanted to set the record straight”

According to then captain Richard Maloney, hoisting the 2004 premiership cup wasn’t the finest moment of his football career.

He says his highlight occurred while sitting around a dinner table a few days after he lead the Lions to their crushing 48 point win over Claremont in front of 22 thousand people at Subiaco Oval.

Maloney was named Subiaco captain in 2001 and in that year he guided his team to a 28 point Semi Final loss against South Fremantle.

A year later he steered them all the way to equal top spot on the WAFL ladder only to lose the second Semi Final to East Perth by 40 points before going down by three goals against West Perth in the Preliminary Final a week later.

In 2003 Maloney lead his beloved Lions all the way the WAFL Grand Final only to again be beaten by West Perth by 23 points.

What was the feeling like in the group at that point?

We had a pretty solid leadership group in place leading into 2004 and we all were very, very filthy in missing out on the 2003 premiership so there were plenty of meetings and discussions pre-season.

We were so focused and so tight and no one that year slipped up because we knew we were in the hunt and we wanted to set the record straight, we were hungry for a flag.

As a club we made sure that we recruited well and we got a lot of guys over from the East and made sure that we kept the guys that we really wanted. There was a bit of a clean out at the club.

What had Peter German instilled into that group by then?

We’d set a culture in place that lasted many years to come and Peter German was instrumental in that.

Germo came in with a philosophy, he was like a sergeant but the players loved him as well.

He had the right balance between fear and family and because of that he built relationships but he wouldn’t keep you too close.

Because we had such a strong senior group that really absorbed that and enjoyed that, the majority of the under 18’s and the reserves players didn’t have a choice but to follow the standards that were put into place by Germo and the leadership group.

What are you memories of Grand Final Day?

I think it was midway into the last quarter and Brad Smith had slotted a goal on the run.

He and I basically looked at each other and we new we were home and that was the beginning of a lot of celebration, but that was probably the only time throughout the whole year that we let ourselves not be focused.

We knew we were home. The last ten minutes of the game it was just making sure that we continued to dot our I’s and cross our T’s and just get through.

That was one of my most memorable moments, just connecting with Skidda (Smith) we both just had that inner smile of ‘this whole year’s been worth it’.

What was it like playing alongside Brad Smith?

What I loved about Brad was that he was an angry man, he demanded respect as a player and as a bloke.

He’s a ripping bloke, he lead off the field and he lead on the field with the football.

He’s one of the great players to play with, him and Ali Pickett are my two favourite players to play with.

What did the flag mean for you personally?

I’d arrived at the club four years prior and there was a lot of heart ache and frustration I wanted to repay the faith and help deliver a premiership before I retired.

I retired after that flag, I was well and truly done it was complete jubilation, it was one of the greatest memories and one of the greatest times of my life.

What do you mean you were ‘done’?

I was carrying injuries all year, I had a combination of hip and leg injuries and lower back.

The club with Alby Hawkins and Donny Sutherland, weaved their magic every week to get me on the track so if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have been there, I would have struggled.

Can you describe the culture with in the group that year?

We were just so tight, we were partying together every weekend at ‘Club 31’

‘Club 31’ was one of the boys’ rental houses and that was instrumental in building the solid culture in our success as silly as it sounds it really was.

It was always a nonnegotiable to come back to ‘Club 31’ after the games and kick on and it was next door to the Paddo (Paddington Ale House).

You lead the team to top spot and a flag, how does that season compare to the rest of your career?

The feeling at Subiaco at 2004, I’ve never experienced that before at all because we were just so fixated on making sure we won a premiership.

 I’ve never seen a club so professional at a semi-professional level and I think that was what created the tenure of premierships that were to come.

 When I retired the platform was set, the foundation was set for strength of mind and a strong culture to handle pressure.

What’s you’re fondest memory of the whole season?

It was at the end of the year, a dinner was organised with all the directors, support staff and players.

Everyone stood up individually and spoke about how much it meant to them and the road that took shape for everyone individually to get to that flag.

It was such a great moment to watch Jeff Lind,  Kim Williamson, Neil Randall Mark Lawrence and the like to get up and speak from the heart about how much it meant to them and how long they’d been waiting for it.

There were tears of joy.

That in my eyes is one of the finest moments in my sporting career just to share that depth of emotion and that’s why were are such a tight group still even though we all live around the world, when I head back it just feels like it’s home but that’s one of my finest memories.

The 2004 Grand Final was Maloney’s final game in maroon and gold.

He’s since returned to his home state of Victoria where he operates a business called Engage and Grow teaching other businesses and elite sporting clubs leadership skills.

The 39 year old has spent the last three years as the Leadership and Culture coach at the Western Bulldogs.

Subiaco members and supporters have the chance to rub shoulders and share stories with Richard ‘Cheese’ Maloney and all the other stars from 2004 at the ten-year premiership re-union function.

The function will take place at the Lions clubrooms at Medibank Stadium following the round 23 fixture against East Fremantle on the 31st of August.

“I’m counting down the days, Todd Holmes and I have started a Facebook page for it. I’m still close with Germo and a few of the other boys over here, we don’t have the stamina we used to but we’re certainly coming over for a dash.”

Find more information here and to book contact Brooke on 92089999.

 

 

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