Ivan Maric is Richmond’s next Homecoming Hero for the 2019 season.
The Tigers are set to pay tribute to Maric in the lead-up to Saturday afternoon’s big Round 18 clash with Port Adelaide at the MCG.
Maric will walk to the Punt Road end of the ground, where he’s sure to be warmly received by the Tiger Army.
He’ll kick a ceremonial goal, then sign the football and present it to a Richmond fan in the crowd.
Highlights of Maric’s playing career with the Tigers also will be shown on the MCG’s big screens.
Ivan Maric was recruited by Richmond from Adelaide during the 2011 trade period in exchange for pick 37 in the AFL national draft.
From the moment Maric arrived at Tigerland he endeared himself to the Yellow and Black faithful with his professional attitude, along with a fierce desire to help the Club succeed.
The Tiger Army know a cult figure when they see one, so it was hardly surprising that the robust ruckman quickly became a fan favourite at his new football home.
Apart from his strongly-built frame, warrior-like approach and on-field aggression, there was, of course, that famous flowing mullet, which added to Maric’s instant appeal to Richmond supporters.
After managing just 77 games in six seasons with the Crows, and struggling to establish himself as a regular member of their senior side, Maric thrived on the opportunity presented to him by the Tigers.
He was rewarded for a fine, first-up season at Richmond in 2012 with third placing in the Jack Dyer Medal and also was named in the All-Australian squad, further underlining his status as one of the competition’s most improved players.
At the end of that year, Maric was voted into the Club’s playing leadership group, such was the instant respect he’d gained from his teammates.
Maric continued to thrive over the next few seasons, earning a reputation as one of the best ruckmen in the competition.
He provided the Tigers with excellent value on-field, and was a great contributor off-field at the Club as well.
In 2015, Maric was appointed Richmond’s co vice-captain, further underlining how highly his leadership qualities were regarded at Tigerland.
But following four first-class seasons, Maric struggled throughout 2016, playing just three senior games and being surpassed as the Tigers’ No. 1 ruckman by Shaun Hampson.
After weighing up his options at the end of the 2016 season, Maric decided to play on and he signed a one-year deal with the Club.
Maric, however, couldn’t regain his place in Richmond’s senior side during the first half of 2017, and in June announced he would retire from AFL football at the end of that season.
Typical of the man, though, he wanted to play out the 2017 season with the Tigers’ VFL team.
His last game at Richmond was in the narrow VFL grand final loss to Port Melbourne.
Although Maric missed out on being a member of the Tigers’ drought-breaking 2017 AFL premiership team, the role he’d played in that glorious triumph was not forgotten when the Club celebrated on Jack Dyer Medal night two days later.
Premiership defender David Astbury paid a glowing tribute to Maric, which perfectly summed up the significant influence he had exerted throughout his time at Tigerland.
“He represented the Richmond Football Club with pride, with passion, and stood up for the values of the football club as they aligned with his,” Astbury said.
“Ivan took our leadership and culture personally, and to a new level.
“He had an undeniable ability to make the simple, the fundamental, seem inspirational.
“The little things, the things that were commonly overlooked, or seen as irrelevant, they really mattered to him. And, from this, a culture was born – a culture driven by him . . .
“The result of Saturday (Grand Final victory) is the fruit of the measures and standards that he put in place.
“He’s been demanding and assertive, as well as caring and understanding.
“How he strikes this balance is a testament to who he is . . .
“He has been a remarkable role model to all the youth that have set foot in at Punt Road.”
Ivan Maric profile
Born: January 4, 1986
Playing weight: 101kg
Recruited by Richmond from: Adelaide, in exchange for pick 37 in the 2011 AFL national draft
Guernsey number at Richmond: No. 20
Senior debut at Richmond: Round 1, 2012 v Carlton, MCG
Games at Richmond (2012-17): 80
Goals at Richmond: 33
Honours at Richmond: Third in the 2012 Jack Dyer Medal