Leeton's Jacob Townsend reflects on AFL premiership success with Richmond

Jacob Townsend is back home in Leeton as an AFL premiership player. Picture: Jessica Coates

Jacob Townsend is back home in Leeton as an AFL premiership player. Picture: Jessica Coates

A trip home to Leeton is helping Jacob Townsend get to grips with his place in history as part of Richmond’s premiership-winning team. 

Townsend said the magnitude of the achievement – for him personally, and for a club hungry for success – is only just beginning to hit home, more than a month after their grand final victory against Adelaide Crows.

“To come back home and see the family and everyone, they're keen to have a chat about it so it’s probably only started to sink in now that I’m a premiership player and, yeah, it’s a good feeling,” Townsend said.

”I walk up the street and there’s always someone that wants to have a chat about the game, and say congratulations. I think the whole town was behind me and the support has been good… so it’s good coming back here.”

Among the celebrations, Townsend has fond memories of the playing group gathering in the middle of an empty MCG to sing the song late on the Saturday night.

He hasn’t got around to watching the game back yet and said the excitement of the occasion has rendered the match itself a bit of a blur.

But his two goals and that tackle will go down in history. 

“I can’t remember too much of the game which is weird for me because I normally can remember games,” he said. 

“I suppose everyone brings up the tackle on the boundary there on Matt Crouch. And it’s obviously always good kicking goals. I can’t even remember when I kicked them!”

Townsend said the message at quarter-time was to back their game plan, and their trademark pressure. He also overcame the disappointment of kicking into the man on the mark with a shot after the siren. 

“I didn’t even know I had the free kick at first,” he said. “And then I wasn’t sure whether to drop punt or barrel. I was a bit far out and it didn’t come off.”

It was the way he responded to that minor setback that mattered, as Richmond upped the pressure, took control and didn’t let up. 

It summarised his season too – the Townsend tale of being called up late in the home-and-away season, making the ‘pressure forward’ role his own, and ensuring he couldn’t be dropped.

As well as an AFL premiership, it’s also earned him at least another season at Punt Road.

“I’ll be there for another season, at least,” he said. “I haven’t signed as of yet – we’re talking through it now – but I’ll definitely be there next year.”

Townsend isn’t required back at Richmond until early December. But he said there’s a commitment among the players to make sure 2017 was no flash-in-the-pan.

“You don’t win a premiership too often so I’ve enjoyed myself the last three or four weeks… but we spoke about it within the playing group to enjoy the win but make sure when we come back for the pre-season, we’re in pretty good nick,” he said.

“We don’t want to fall behind and take four or six weeks to find our feet in the season. If you don’t start well, it’s tough to come back from there.”

Townsend said they want to learn from, not repeat, some of the history lessons of others.

“I read an article the other day about (former Hawthorn captain) Luke Hodge and the 2008 premiership – they were pretty young like us and, they didn’t take it for granted but they partied hard and they found out the next year that you can't just turn up and expect to play well or to be there again the following year.”

Townsend has also caught up with some Leeton-Whitton players, where he could trade tales of drought-breaking premierships, after his junior club claimed its first Riverina League flag with victory against Collingullie-Glenfield Park

“I had a bit of a chat to them and obviously it was a good year for the Crows as well,” Townsend said.

Jacob Townsend with his AFL premiership medal at the home of Leeton-Whitton Crows.

Jacob Townsend with his AFL premiership medal at the home of Leeton-Whitton Crows.