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.
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.
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
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...