Richmond has been widely lauded for an incredible show of sportsmanship towards retiring Essendon star Michael Hurley after his goal in the final minutes of his career.
Playing in his first match in over 700 days, Hurley’s goal in the last quarter was the only moment of joy for Essendon fans after a tumultous week as Richmond ran out 21. 15. (141) to 11. 9. (75) winners at the MCG.
Hurley kicked truly from close range and was predictably mobbed by his teammates, but then to everyone’s amazement, Richmond’s entire team also came up to the Bombers star in a moment described as “unbelievable”.
“It was emotional scenes,” Lions great Jonathan Brown said on Fox Footy.
“You’d expect his teammates to come around him, but then to see the opposition players come down as well, it just shows the amount of respect he does have in the footy community.
“Really scenes we haven’t seen before. We’ve seen teams run out through the banner together before games, but that is sensational. It just shows how tight the football community is, they get around a brother in need.
“I think it’s one of the enduring memories of the 2022 season.”
Collingwood legend Nathan Buckley was also left amazed, and praised Richmond’s culture.
“It shows Richmond’s class as well,” he said.
“The way that Damien Hardwick has coached this team and the way they’ve come through over the last five or six years, they’re as competitive and as ferocious as anyone when it comes to winning a 50-50 ball.
“But the way they carry themselves, they have gratitude for what they are, for what they’re apart of, the fact that they can’t do this without their competition.”
Seven’s commentary team was also stunned by Richmond’s reaction, with both Wayne Carey and Luke Darcy describing it as “a first” in their decades involved in footy.
Following his side’s win, Richmond veteran Jack Riewoldt said the team had discussed getting around Hurley in the event he kicked a goal in the lead-up to the match.
“Funnily enough, I think the backs were saying, ‘Don’t put pressure on him, just let him run in and snap it’.
“We actually spoke about it before the game. You want to play with respect, obviously play hard on a player like that, but then send a champion (off) who’s seen some really low times at the football club and some good times as well and obviously through injury it’s been a tough battle as well.
“Just gave him the respect that he thoroughly deserves.”