Main content

Charlie's VFL Camp Diary

McRae on VFL pre-season Richmond VFL Coach, Craig McRae speaks to Roar Vision about how the team is shaping up for the 2019 season.

Young VFL Tiger Charlie Thompson shares his diary from the VFL pre-season training camp at Safety Beach. 

MEMBERSHIP The Hunt Continues in 2019; join as a member today


The group met at Don Bosco camp in Safety Beach on the Mornington Peninsula for our 2019 pre-season camp.  After an extremely successful maiden camp in 2018, the boys were super excited to continue our preparation for the upcoming season.  We met for dinner at 7pm and were greeted by the manager of the camp, Paul, who attempted a few Richmond-related gags, scoring a laugh off a few of the boys.  A quick reference to “Dusty dusting off the dishes” was the best he had, but we all appreciated the effort.  A dinner of Spaghetti Bolognese was followed by our first meeting of the camp.  ‘Fly’ set the camp up with an introduction of what we wanted to achieve over the three days and a couple of highlight reels to get the boys up and about.  The highlight of the night was the announcement of Steve Morris as our captain for the second year in a row. ‘Morro’ is a great mate of mine and I couldn’t be happier that he’s going to skipper the ship again.  'Morro’s' greatest strength as a leader is the example he sets both on and off the field, but he couples this with an amazing ability to give and receive feedback.  

View this post on Instagram

@stevemorris38 will remain captain in 2019 🙌

A post shared by Richmond VFL (@richmondvfl) on



I woke with a bit of a fright as I noticed Anthony Fagan, our footy manager, had made himself comfortable in our cabin in the middle of the night. The reason being midfield coach Xavier Clarke’s “freight train” like snoring had forced the move before midnight. Rumour has it that 'Fly' encountered the same issue with forwards coach Paul Griffiths, and it’s safe to say ‘Griff’ found a new cabin the following night. Tommy Silvestro and I snuck off for a quick coffee before a 7am breakfast as we knew a big day was in store.   

The morning was filled with a few meetings based around our game plan, before a pre-training meeting that set up the session to come. At around midday we ventured out to Seaford for training. We were greeted with a scorching sun and minimal shade, but there were no complaints from the boys. New recruit Lachie Street was a standout on the track with his intercept marking, Harry Tanner’s leg speed and forward pressure was on display and Jacob Ballard’s effort and intensity was elite. Big Bill Coates highlighted his versatility by being a dominant presence in the forward line during some match simulation and Jono Marsh showed his speed with a big run-down tackle, which lifted the spirits of the group. It was a long and gruelling session, undoubtedly the hardest a lot of us had ever done, but the quality of training across the board was really pleasing. We came off the track for a nice post-training feed, which the boys demolished, but we were well aware 'Fly' had something else up his sleeve for us. After we’d eaten, we gathered around 'Fly' and he informed us we’d be racing back to camp. This seemed a little strange as it might not be all that safe for a convoy of 12 cars to fly back down the highway to Dromana, potentially raising some eyebrows. But he went on to explain we could not break any laws… and there was a catch. Wayne and 'Gaz', from our property team, had deflated a tyre on each of the cars (I hear they quite enjoyed the task as well - thanks Wayne and 'Gaz!'). In small groups we had to change the flat tyre, swing by the servo to fill the flat one up, and get back to camp. Luckily for one group they had a pump in their car, giving them a slight advantage as they flew back to camp in record time. Some of the other groups struggled a little, with one group snapping the jack and another having to read a manual. Eventually all the groups made it back and we ventured down to the beach for a swim to cool off.   

We had the Saturday night off, which meant some quality time building relationships and essentially having a laugh. At around 8pm we gathered in the hall for the Xavier Clarke “X-Factor Show,” where each team had to present a joke, a dance and a song. Not only were the jokes extremely funny, but the singing and dancing was hilariously bad. Fin Bayne told a cracker of a joke at the expense of ‘Fages,’ and Lachie Street followed on from his big session on the track by performing one of the most well-delivered gags I’ve seen. Griff took on the role of impersonating Red Symons and scored my group a 0. We had a great night together after a tough day on the track.

BROWSE Find a 2019 membership package suited to you


A slightly later start on Sunday was well deserved after a big day on Saturday. Don Bosco served up another cracker of a breakfast before we headed down to the beach for one last activity. Stand up paddle boarding was the task for the morning and again we were split up into our teams for a couple of relays. Brenton Credlin and Hayden Bruce were probably the two to watch in the water, but it was the blokes (myself included) who continually fell off the board that provided the most laughs for the boys. The session culminated in a race between Nick Baltas and I as the worst two on the paddle boards. I was very happy to get the chocolates as Baltas had to roll around in the sand for 30 seconds making a ‘chicken schnitzel.’  

We went back to camp for one last meeting. 'Fly' summed up the camp and we agreed that we’d met all the aims for the weekend. It had been a hard slog at times, but there had also been plenty of time to become closer as a group. Practice games aren’t far away now and everyone’s pretty excited to get stuck in. 

View this post on Instagram

2019 camp 🏉🏉

A post shared by Charlie Thompson (@_charliethompson) on