Tributes flow for AFL great Rioli - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tributes flow for AFL great Rioli

26/12/2010 03:08:02 PM Comments (0)

Tributes are continuing to flow for AFL great Maurice Rioli who died on Christmas Day, aged 53.

The Norm Smith medallist and former Richmond player collapsed at a family barbecue in Darwin after suffering an apparent heart attack.

Rioli was considered a trailblazer for indigenous footballers and has been remembered as a genius of the game.

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou said Rioli's name would live on in the history books and football fans would mourn his untimely death.

"I had the great pleasure to be able to play against Maurice and he was a wonderful skilled player who could control a game," Mr Demetriou said in a statement on Boxing Day.

"He was the trailblazer for footballers from the Northern Territory in making their mark in the VFL and the AFL and he continued to serve his community long after his playing days, with his work in public life."

Rioli was a three-time All-Australian, the first indigenous player to win a Norm Smith medal, and was named in the indigenous team of the century.

Born on Melville Island in the Northern Territory on September 1, 1957, Rioli started his career in Darwin before being recruited to Perth side, South Fremantle, in the 1970s.

He was later signed by Richmond, where he played 118 games, kicking 80 goals and picking up two back-to-back club best and fairest awards in 1982 and 1983.

In 1982, the talented mid-fielder became not only the first indigenous Norm Smith medallist, but the first player from a losing side to take the coveted award - in Richmond's grand final defeat against Carlton.

Rioli was a Brownlow runner-up in 1983.

After playing out his career in Fremantle, Rioli moved back to Darwin where he became the state member for Arafura in 1992 until his retirement from parliament in 2001.

The Rioli name has lived on in the AFL with two of his nephews - Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli and former Essendon player Dean Rioli - making major contributions to the code.

Essendon star Michael Long is Rioli's brother-in-law.

While Cyril Rioli wasn't speaking publicly on Sunday, Hawthorn chief executive Stuart Fox offered a statement on behalf of the Hawks.

"The club offers its full support to the broader Rioli family and in particular Cyril, who is understandably very upset at the passing of his uncle," Fox said.

Tigers chief executive Brendon Gale said on Saturday Rioli was an enormously important AFL figure and would be remembered as one of the greatest players in the Tigers' proud history.

Rioli was working as a community services manager for the Tiwi Islands Council when he died.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news