Gal­lant Knight the king of the kids in his home town Fam­ily and footy hero paves way

The Advertiser - - NEWS - BERNARD HUMPHREYS CLARE RICHARD EARLE

YOU’D ex­pect the kids of a coun­try town to back their homegrown AFL hero in a grand fi­nal, but in the case of Clare and the Crows’ Ri­ley Knight, the sup­port goes both ways.

Now 22, Knight still not only vis­its his home reg­u­larly, but gives some­thing back as a men­tor and ex­am­ple to coun­try kids with big dreams to chase.

At St Joseph’s school, prin­ci­pal Peter Shearer says Knight was “a rip­per kid” and that in his adult­hood and sport­ing fame he “hasn’t for­got­ten where his roots are”.

Knight has been back to the school to give talks for Year 7s, but he also has un­der­taken one-one-one men­tor­ing with one stu­dent who needed some help with di­rec­tion in his stud­ies and goals, some­thing at which Mr Shearer says the foot­baller is a nat­u­ral.

“You don’t have to ask Ri­ley to do things like that, he’s just ready to do it,” Mr Shearer said on his way to Mel­bourne to watch the game with Knight’s par­ents, Rob and Mandy, and sis­ters Shae, 21, and Casey, 23.

Also go­ing is Mr Shearer’s son, Isaac, 18, a good mate of the ris­ing AFL star, and the tick­ets were or­gan­ised by Knight him­self.

He has be­come a firm friend of the ed­u­ca­tor and his fam­ily “al­though he still calls me Mr Shearer”.

One of Knight’s teach­ers, Bri­ony Ack­land, who took him for Ja­panese in Year 4, de- scribed Knight, a de­voted Chris­tian, as a young man of “great re­spect and ded­i­ca­tion”.

A ma­ture child “but with a great sense of fun” Knight the man had most im­pressed her with the way he had vis­ited the school to “talk about val­ues, things he hadn’t re­alised him­self un­til he was much older”.

He told the present stu­dents of school mem­o­ra­bilia he had kept in “a mem­ory” box, be­cause he so val­ued the time he had spent at the school.

The Hawthorn-sup­port­ing teacher “will ab­so­lutely be go­ing for the Crows” in the grand fi­nal, as will most of the kids, re­gard­less of their club al­le­giances.

Among them, school cap­tain Char­lie Jones, 12, ad­mires the star for “the way he strives for suc­cess through faith” SHANE Ed­wards is in­debted to fam­ily and his in­au­gu­ral Rich­mond skip­per Kane John­son for pav­ing a jour­ney from Golden Grove to the last Satur­day in Septem­ber.

Ed­wards, 28, is su­per close to his dad - for­mer Cen­tral District star Greg - mum Tara and younger brother Kym.

“Be­fore a game we mainly talk about ev­ery­thing other than footy be­fore touch­ing on it. We all love each other’s com­pany,” said Greg Ed­wards, the youngest to boot 100 SANFL goals in 1982, the year Rich­mond last made a de­cider.

Shane said the sup­port of fam­ily had been a cru­cial spur in what many thought was AFL’s mis­sion im­pos­si­ble for the Tigers. “They are re­ally proud. You know some­thing pretty spe­cial is hap­pen­ing when they are up and about ask­ing me heaps of ques­tions.”

Greg Ed­wards re­mem­bers dual Ade­laide pre­mier­ship star John­son in­tro­duc­ing him­self to Shane at his first Tigers club BBQ in 2006. Shane still has him on a pedestal 11 years on.

“He was cap­tain of the club and a pre­mier­ship hero back in Ade­laide. I was that star struck when I first lived with him,” Shane said. PAGE 77: ED­WARDS’ DREAM

Pic­tures: SARAH REED, BERNARD HUMPHREYS

RIP­PER KID: Ri­ley Knight in the grand fi­nal pa­rade and, left, Year 7 stu­dents at St Joseph’s School in Clare.

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