Thursday, December 30, 2010
It is stated at the very beginning, the first chapter in fact, that this is not a normal football book. Journalist Martin Flanagan got that right, probably just as well, because his subject was not a normal footballer. Over 282 games and 17 seasons Matthew ‘Richo’ Richardson alternately amused, amazed and annoyed supporters, coaches, players and commentators. Quite often he did all 3 in the one game.
Martin Flanagan doesn’t just talk about the man they called ‘Richo’, that’s because the book is not just about him. It’s got all his facts and figures, it describes some of the games, it talks about the great moments of his career, but there’s so much more in this book.
‘Richo’ is a celebration of the game and the people around it. There are stories about Matthew Richardson’s life, the history of his family and some of the people who have been with him on his incredible journey, but then there are stories that Flanagan just seemed to dig up. Little bits of history, musing on the state of the game then and now. Stories about the club that ‘Richo’ gave his life to; the Richmond football club, stories about players from other clubs, those clubs themselves and from outside of the AFL itself.
I think what makes ‘Richo’ work is that it’s a book about someone who loves the game, by someone who loves the game, although they come from separate worlds. Matthew Richardson was a player, one of the greats and Martin Flanagan was never able to play the game at the top level, but has devoted his life to writing about it. I was pleased when I found out that Martin Flanagan was the journalist who was going to write ‘Richo’s’ story. I’ve always enjoyed Flanagan’s everyman way of looking at the game and writing about it. Martin Flanagan is not like many of his contemporaries who are ex-players or objective journalists, he’s a storyteller and this is a great story.