Sport AFL Jake King, tough little man, farewells AFL

Jake King, tough little man, farewells AFL

Jake King celebrates a goal during the 2012 season.
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Jake King, Richmond’s tough small man, has announced his retirement from the AFL, effective immediately.

King, who played 107 games in eight seasons and was widely considered to have made the most of his ability, made the decision after being told he needed further surgery for a troublesome toe injury. The injury restricted him to two matches in 2014 in what turned out to be his final season.

King, who was dubbed ‘The Push-up King’ by some, was a combative player who also gained notoriety for the company he kept.

He was reprimanded by the club last year when he invited Bandidos bikie club sergeant-at-arms Toby Mitchell into the Tigers dressing rooms after a match.

While the club said it did not tell King who he could mix with in his own time, then AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou expressed his concern in March this year after King was photographed with Mitchell at a women’s lingerie griiron match in Melbourne.

“Jake King should seriously consider who he associates with and not put at risk the reputation of his club or put himself in a vulnerable position,” Demetriou said at the time.

“We have intelligence that people are trying to infiltrate the game and some of them are not nice people and jeopardise the integrity of the game. Whether it’s to do with information-sharing, gambling, illicit drugs, performance-enhancing drugs, we know, and that is a fact.

Richmond issued a statement on its website describing King as “one of the success stories of the AFL rookie system”.

The statement said: “He served his football apprenticeship with North Heidelberg in the Diamond Valley league, before joining Richmond’s then VFL affiliate club, Coburg, in 2006.

“An excellent first-up season at VFL level, saw King taken by Richmond with its second of two picks in the rookie draft at the end of that year.

“Then, on the eve of the 2007 season, King was elevated to the Club’s senior playing list.

“The mature-age recruit made his senior league debut for Richmond in the Round 4, 2007 match against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG, aged 23 years, 25 days.

“It was a solid first-up effort by King, who had a dozen disposals and took six marks in his role as a small defender.

“King, with his pace, poise, fierce desire and bravery in the back half as standout attributes, retained his place in the Tigers’ team for the remainder of the ’07 season.

“He continued to impress during 2008, but the following year he 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 it was Damien Hardwick’s arrival as Richmond coach, at the end of the 2009 season, which ultimately revived King’s AFL career.

“Following a slow start to 2010, King re-established himself as a senior regular 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 new assignment with great gusto.

“The small defender-turned-forward kicked 11 goals in the final five rounds that 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, until a series of injuries, culminating in the nagging toe problem, eventually wore him down.

“The little back pocket plumber-turned-feisty-productive-forward, came to be regarded as something of a barometer in the Richmond side.

“When he was up and about, strutting his stuff across the forward line, the Tigers were a much better unit, and harder for the opposition to counter.

“King scored a career-high 25 goals in the 2011 season, and finished with 21 in 2013.

“He can be mighty proud of what he achieved during his time at Richmond, and the fact he extracted everything possible out of his body for his beloved Tigers.”