QLD Premier Rugby: A party in Ashgrove, 22 years in the making

By Michael Atkinson. Photo: QRU Media

Jeeps captain, Michael Richards’ leadership throughout the 2018 Queensland Premier Rugby season has been outstanding in his first year as skipper, but the rangy backrower saved his finest performance for the post-premiership celebrations.

The man they call “Pencil” was front and centre of the celebrations at the G.P.S clubhouse in Ashgrove on Sunday night – leading the congregation in the club song; renditions of the classic ‘Queen’ hit “We are the Champions”; and repeatedly claiming the feeling was “Better than Lego!’

For Richards, and many of the players, it was the achievement of a dream they have held for more than a decade.

Richards himself has played at the club his whole life and his family is as much a part of the club as the club is a part of the family.

Dad, John, was the first grade Team Manager this year, and has been the club President in the past.

Younger brother, Nick – known as “Slippery” – was on the reserves bench for the Grand Final, and although he didn’t get on, deserves to celebrate like a champion because this club has also been like a second home for him.

Their other siblings – two sisters, and four brothers – have all been involved in the club as players, on the bar or the scoreboard or running the social media accounts, and fittingly, were all there to celebrate the drought breaking win.

After the game, Michael summed up the feeling, not just for his family, but for the G.P.S club community.

“I’m just so proud that we were able to do this.”

“We’re going to party down at Yoku, it’s gunna be great.”

“Everyone get down there; it’s coming home.”

The people listened and swarmed to Yoku Road in Ashgrove in their thousands.

Although most had been waiting 22 years, few expected the party to be as big as it was.

The strain on the stock behind the bar was significant, and the club ran out of pre-mixed spirits before the celebrations really hit their peak.

Thankfully, a fortuitous call from a club official at Brothers to Jeeps CEO, Anthony Herbert, result in old foes, ‘The Filth’, providing some supplies for the party to kick on.

And into the wee hours it did, with the Richards clan, Daniel Gorman, Ryan Freney and Mitch King leading the charge, as they did on the field.

It’s a night that players, officials and supporters won’t soon forget (not voluntarily at least), as Jeeps washed away more than two decades of waiting, wishing and hoping.

While some players like Freney and King will ride into retirement as winners, for others, like Richards, there are plenty of seasons ahead to win another one.

The club won’t want to wait another 22 years to party like that again, because the feeling was addictive; better than Lego.

But even if it ends up being another long wait, for G.P.S junior, lifelong Ashgrove resident, and captain of the club’s first premiership since 1996, Richards knows no one can take 2018 away from him.

Fittingly, for the bloke they call ‘Pencil’, he’s written his name in the history books.

And is still celebrating accordingly.

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