Courageous Holmes claims Richardson medal

Clarence Football Club running defender James Holmes has won the Matthew Richardson Medal as the best emerging youngster in the Southern Cross Tasmanian State League (TSL), for season 2017.

Awarded to the rookie of the year, players eligible for the Matthew Richardson Medal must be under 23 years of age, have played less than 20 games at the commencement of the season, and played no more than two years of senior football.

Holmes,19, remarkably only made his TSL senior debut this season with his first senior game coming in Round 2 of 2017. Bursting onto the scene Holmes has played 18 games and a final in a sensational season for the Roos.

Clarence Senior Coach Jeromey Webberley has been thoroughly impressed by the youngster’s season and his ability to take on a new role and make it his own.

“James has had an outstanding year, his ability to win the ball in defence, battle hard in one on ones and his courage has been impressive.”

The gutsy youngster is known for his attack on the footy and his courage, often putting himself in harm’s way to win the ball. Holmes has never been involved in any talent or state program and has maintained focus on his footy to develop through Clarence’s programs. He is a terrific tale of development as he is a home grown product of the Clarence Football Club, playing for the Roos from Auskick right through to TSL.

“He is a really good intercept mark for his size and his ability to create turnover through reading the game and his willingness to put his body on the line is first class,” Webberley said.

“He has leadership qualities and we hope to see him evolve into a leader of our football club, he sets the right example and will be a quality senior player for years to come,” the ‘Roos supremo added.

In 2017, the blonde haired defender has taken the top tier by storm but in previous seasons he plied his trade in the Mercury Cup as a small forward. He was thrown a challenge by Webberley in pre-season to play in defence and he has taken to it extremely well to become a mainstay in the Roos defensive setup.

“His biggest attribute is that he is able to take on information and be shown once and then go out and put that into practice it is something that you don’t often see in young players,” Webberley explained. 

Holmes was a surprised winner of the award, admitting when his coach broke the news he thought the call may be for other reasons.

“I got the call from Jez (Webberley) and thought he was going to tell me I was dropped or something but it was good, I was pretty surprised.

“I didn’t really think I was a chance at all I was more concentrating on the team success.

“My goal at the start of the year was to play six senior games and I fulfilled that in the first six games and then I changed my goal and just tried to keep my spot every week.”

The youngster said it was surreal to win an award named after one of his football heroes.

“It is a massive honour to win it. When they said you’ve won the Richardson medal I was like WOW.

“I lined up in the mall and got his (Matthew Richardson) signature as a kid, got it on my footy card and I’ve still got it actually.”

TSL General Manager Carl Saunder congratulated Holmes on collecting the award that recognises one of Tasmania’s all time greats, Matthew Richardson.

“James’ story is a fantastic one of determination and loyalty.

Credit to him and his club, James hasn’t been involved in talent programs but has stuck at it.The Roos have continued to develop him as a player and it has bared fruit this season as he has broken into a quality outfit and had a profound impact.

“He has taken on a new role and had an outstanding season and for a player of his age and size he demonstrates impressive courage and composure. A deserved winner.”

He is the first winner of the medal from Clarence since 2010 when current team mate Trent Standen won the inaugural medal.

All nine TSL clubs were invited to nominate players that met the criteria of eligibility for the award, the winner was then picked from the nominations by a panel.

Previous Winners – Matthew Richardson Medal

2016 – Toutai Havea (Lauderdale)

2015 – Jordan Arnold (Glenorchy)

2014 – Ben Halton (Lauderdale)

2013 – Thane Bardenhagen (South Launceston)

2012 – Aaron McNab (Devonport)

2011 – Kaine Waller (Lauderdale)

2010 – Trent Standen (Clarence)