Jake ‘The Push-Up’ King quickly became a cult hero during his playing career at Richmond (2007 – 2014) whereby he played a total of 107 senior games, this was due to the spirited way he went about his football that is still fondly remembered two years after he was forced to retire due to a persistent foot injury. The Tigers will thus honour King during the pre-game build-up at this Friday night’s Round 7 clash with Hawthorn at the MCG.
Prior to being drafted to Richmond with pick 24 in the 2006 Rookie Draft, King played for North Heidelberg in the Diamond Valley Football League before moving to the Coburg Tigers in the VFL. He was a co-winner of Coburg’s best and fairest award in 2006 prior to being selected by Richmond onto their rookie list. King was temporarily elevated to the senior list in May 2007 along with Cameron Howat when Mark Coughlan and Carl Peterson were placed on the long-term injury list. He made his senior debut in Round 4 of the 2007 season in a Friday night clash against the Western Bulldogs alongside Shane Edwards. In his debut, King netted 12 disposals and took six marks as a small defender, as Richmond suffered a 32-point loss. He would go on to play every single game of the season and was subsequently promoted to the senior list the following year.
King was that small crumbing forward, that Richmond appears to be lacking at current, recognised for his toughness and pace around the ball. This was despite his career at Richmond starting at the opposite end of the ground. It was upon Damien Hardwick’s appointment to head coach at the close of the 2009 season whereby King’s career was revived, after it appeared to have been stagnated somewhat under Terry Wallace in the years proceeding as well as under caretaker coach Jade Rawlings after Wallace departed Richmond in mid 2008.
Under Hardwick’s tutelage, King re-established himself as a senior regular in defence once more. However, three-quarters of the way through that season, Hardwick challenged him to become the team’s permanent defensive forward. He embraced the role and the small defender-turned forward kicked 11 goals in the final five rounds of the 2010 season, to finish fifth on the Club’s goal-kicking list for the year. He also managed to take the second-most marks inside-50 by a Richmond player that season, further underlining how well he’d been able to reinvent himself at the game’s highest level. He went from strength to strength as a small forward and he would score a career-high 25 goals in the 2011 season and followed up with 21 in 2013...he was thus regarded as something of a barometer in the Richmond side.
The consistently determined effort King possessed to help the Tigers on the field of battle saw him net 29 disposals against Hawthorn in the 2008 season; perhaps fitting he is being honoured prior to the latest instalment of the two sides meeting once more. He also had a career-high 16 disposals against Hawthorn in the same game as well as a career-high 11 marks. When the feisty small forward was up and about, applying pressure to opposition defenders and forcing turnovers, the Tigers’ forward line took on a significantly more potent look. King was and is the very definition of one of the success stories of the AFL’s rookie draft system.
What are your memories of Jake King?