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‘Gas’ comes home

Homecoming Hero: Darren Gaspar Darren Gaspar is the Homecoming Hero for Richmond's Round 9 match against Hawthorn.

Darren Gaspar is Richmond’s next Homecoming Hero for the 2019 season.

The Tigers are set to pay tribute to Gaspar in the lead-up to Sunday afternoon’s Round 9 clash with Hawthorn at the MCG.

Gaspar, a star key defender with Richmond for a decade, will walk to the Punt Road end of the ground, where he’s sure to be warmly received by the Tiger Army.

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He’ll kick a ceremonial goal, then sign the football and present it to a Richmond fan in the crowd.

Highlights of Gaspar’s time with the Tigers also will be shown on the MCG’s big screens.

Darren Gaspar, originally from WAFL club South Fremantle, was a talented teenager with two years of AFL experience under his belt at the Sydney Swans (21 games), when the Tigers swooped and snared him with their first pick (No. 3 overall) in the 1996 pre-season draft amid a blaze of publicity.

Gaspar lived up to all the hype, going on to have a stellar career at Tigerland, playing 207 games from 1996-2007, winning the Jack Dyer Medal in the Club’s 2001 finals year, and earning All-Australian selection twice (2000 and 2001).

He had the mental toughness and ideal temperament to cope with the pressure-cooker environment of playing deep in defence on the opposition’s dangerous key forwards.

Nothing seemed to faze Gaspar . . . he went about his business coolly, calmly and with utmost efficiency.

That held him in extremely good stead, especially when he came up against powerful, all-time AFL great key forwards such as Wayne Carey, Tony Lockett and Jason Dunstall.

Other key factors that contributed to the considerable success Gaspar had as a key defender, at the game’s highest level, were his pace, cat-like reflexes and aerial ability (either marking the ball himself or getting a fist in to spoil an opponent’s marking attempt).

The agility he possessed also enabled him to play on, and quell, the competition’s best slick, quick small forwards.

That versatility to match up on opposition forwards of all shapes and sizes significantly enhanced Gaspar’s value to the Tigers’ team.

He was a consummate professional, with his preparation and planning for each opponent being first class.

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Gaspar earned a fine reputation throughout his playing days at Richmond as one of the competition’s best key defenders.

In 2016, when esteemed veteran football journalist Mike Sheahan was assigned the task of ranking the top 50 Richmond players he’d seen during his time following VFL/AFL football, he placed Gaspar at No. 35.

Here’s what he had to say about Gaspar . . .

“The 1994 No 1 draft pick lasted just two years in Sydney before becoming a highly-efficient defender at Richmond. Won a best and fairest in 2001, a rare achievement for a full-back, and he was a capable and reliable performer at Tigerland for the bulk of his 207 games.”

 

Darren Gaspar profile

Born: May 20, 1976

Height: 193cm

Playing weight: 90kg

Recruited by Richmond from: Sydney/South Fremantle (WAFL)

Guernsey number at Richmond: No. 2 

Debut at Richmond: Round 2, 1996 v Hawthorn, Waverley Park

Games at Richmond (1996-2007): 207

Goals at Richmond: 22

Honours at Richmond: 2001 Jack Dyer Medal winner, dual All-Australian representative 2000 and 2001

Here is a list of Richmond's Homecoming Heroes since 2014...

2014, Rd 2: Michael Green 2014, Rd 4: Kevin Bartlett 2014, Rd 6: Bryan Wood
2014, Rd 13: Kevin Morris 2014, Rd 14: Wayne Walsh 2014, Rd 16: Barry Richardson
2014, Rd 19: Rex Hunt 2014, Rd 20: Francis Bourke 2015, Rd 2: Bill Barrot
2015, Rd 5: Andrew Kellaway 2015, Rd 7: Mark Lee 2015, Rd 9: Derek Peardon 
2015, R12: Dale Weightman 2015, R15: Matthew Richardson 2015, R17: Dick Clay
2015, R20: Barry Rowlings 2016, R6: Matthew Rogers 2016, R7: Jake King
2016, R8: Nick Daffy 2016, R12: Nathan Foley 2016, R14: Dan Jackson 
2016, R17: Scott Turner 2016, R20: Jim Jess 2016, R21: John Ronaldson
2016, R22: Graeme Bond 2017, R2: Roger Dean   2017, R3: Richard Clay
2017, R8: Mick Malthouse 2017, R10: Michael Mitchell 2017, R13: Shane Tuck
2017, R14: Paul Broderick 2017, R18: Stephen Mount 2017, R20: Graham Burgin
2017, R23: Trevor Poole 2018, R3: Michael Roach 2018, R4: Michael Gale
2018, R7: Craig Lambert 2018, R10: Stephen Rae 2018, R16: Chris Naish
2018, R19: Tony Jewell 2018, R20: Gareth Andrews 2018, R22: Mark Eustice
2018, R23: Nathan Brown 2019, R2: Geoff Raines 2019, R9: Darren Gaspar