Jake King is Richmond’s second Homecoming Hero for the 2016 season.
The Tigers will honor King during the pre-game build-up at this Friday night’s Round 7 clash with Hawthorn at the MCG.
King, who became a cult figure at Tigerland because of the spirited way he went about his football, will walk to the Punt Road end of the ground to receive rightful recognition from the Yellow and Black faithful.
He will then proceed to kick a ceremonial goal, before signing the football and presenting it to a Richmond fan in the crowd.
Highlights of King’s playing career with the Tigers also will be shown on the MCG’s screens.
Jake King is one of the success stories of the AFL’s rookie draft system.
King served his football apprenticeship with North Heidelberg in the Diamond Valley league, before joining Richmond’s then VFL affiliate, Coburg, in 2006.
He made an immediate impression in the Coburg side due to his toughness, tenacity, aggression, and ball-winning ability.
In that ’06 debut season of VFL football, King was the equal winner of Coburg’s best and fairest award – an achievement made all the more meritorious due to his off-field situation at the time.
King was working as a labourer on building sites from early in the morning, until downing tools and heading off to Coburg training late afternoons.
So exhausted was he from his daily work regime, he’d sometimes fall asleep on the benches in the Coburg rooms, and have to be woken to get out on the training track.
It clearly didn’t affect his football, however . . .
Richmond had followed his progress closely throughout the season and liked what it saw.
The Tigers subsequently took the mature-aged King with their second of two picks in that year’s rookie draft.
On the eve of the 2007 season, King was elevated to the senior playing list at Tigerland, when newcomer Carl Peterson was placed on the long-term injury list while recovering from ostietis pubis.
King then made his senior league debut for Richmond in the Round 4, MCG Friday night clash with the Western Bulldogs, aged 23 years, 25 days. The Tigers’ other debutant that evening was talented South Australian teenager Shane Edwards.
It was a solid first-up effort by King, who had 12 disposals and took six marks in his role as a small defender, as Richmond suffered a 32-point loss.
King, with his pace, poise, fierce desire and bravery in the back half standout features, retained his place in the Tiger team for the remainder of the season.
He continued to impress during 2008, but the following year managed only eight senior games, as coach Terry Wallace departed the Club mid-season and Jade Rawlings took over in a caretaker coaching capacity.
But Damien Hardwick’s arrival as Richmond’s coach, at the end of the 2009 season, ultimately revived King’s league career.
After a slow start to 2010, King re-established himself as a senior regular in defence with the Tigers.
And then, three-quarters of the way through that season, Hardwick threw him the challenge of becoming the team’s permanent defensive forward.
In inimitable style, King embraced his assignment with great gusto.
The small defender-turned-forward kicked 11 goals in the final five rounds of the 2010 season, to finish fifth on the Club’s goalkicking list for the year.
He also managed to take the second-most marks inside-50 by a Tiger player that season, to further underline how well he’d been able to reinvent himself at the game’s highest level.
From that point on, King went from strength to strength as a small forward . . .
He scored a career-high 25 goals in the 2011 season, and followed up with 21 in 2013.
The feisty small forward, dubbed ‘The Push-up King’, came to be regarded as something of a barometer in the Richmond side.
When he was up and about, applying fierce pressure to opposition defenders and forcing turnovers, the Tigers’ forward line took on a significantly more potent look.
Unfortunately, a debilitating toe complaint eventually forced King to announce his retirement from league football late in the 2014 season.
He had extracted everything possible out of his body, and the football talent he possessed, in a consistently determined effort to help the Tigers on the field of battle.
Jake King profile
Playing weight: 82kg
Draft history: Pick 24 in the AFL’s 2006 rookie draft
Guernsey number at Richmond: No. 46 and No. 28
Debut at Richmond: Round 4, 2007 v Western Bulldogs, MCG
Games at Richmond: 107
Goals at Richmond: 79