500 Games for Richard Tonelli!
Richard with his son, Samuel
WHEN Richard Tonelli runs on to Angliss Reserve this weekend, he will be chasing history.
The Footscray Lacrosse Club champion will play his 500th game on July 25, a record unmatched and unlikely ever to be repeated at the club.
For some, the sport remains a mystery but for Tonelli, it’s been his life.
He said being “five foot nothing”, he was never going to be a footballer or basketballer.
“I started playing when I was 14 and what kid ever thinks they are going to make 500 games or break some record,” he said.
“Since then, it’s pretty much all I have known and Saturdays have become lacrosse day.”
Tonelli said a school friend introduced him to the sport and after one training session, he was hooked. When he first started playing 26 years ago, the club used heavy wooden sticks with leather mesh and the groundskeeper’s shed doubled as a clubroom.
“I knew nothing about lacrosse and I never even knew it existed,” he said.
“But I learned to love everything about the game. Playing for the same club and with the same blokes every week, there is nothing better.”
Tonelli, 49, has played at state, national and international level but said one of his greatest achievements was helping his side to a premiership last year.
He said they overpowered the undefeated Williamstown team by six goals.
Club president Greg Mollison said you don’t make 500 games without determination and hard work.
He said he had made a lasting contribution that would be extremely hard for anyone else to match.
Lacrosse has also become somewhat of a family affair for Tonelli. He has taken on a mentoring role at the club this year coaching his son Samuel’s under-11 team.
Tonelli said he thought about retiring following his 500th game. But as the date edged closer, he felt there was a few more seasons left in him.
Lacrosse Victoria would like to congratulate Richard on this fantastic achievement.