David Richards’ first impression of football was that it was a “rubbish game” but his opinion has changed over five decades of playing.
At 80 years old, David is the oldest registered football player in the ACT and surrounding region but it wasn’t until he arrived in Canberra from London in 1965 to work at NASA’s Orroral Valley Tracking Station that he developed a love for the sport.
“When they used to pick teams at school, I was always left standing on the sidelines,” David said. “So I grew up thinking football was a rubbish game and didn’t play it until I came to Australia as a 25-year-old and started playing in the Churches League.
“I’ve never had so many injuries than the couple of years I played Churches League. I think it was because a lot of them are hopeless players and the tackles were less than perfect.”
After playing for nine years for Weston Creek in Reserve Grade and forming a social team with his work colleagues, David joined the Masters competition and has been playing in it ever since.
The competition has given David a chance to continue playing the sport he loves, albeit in a different position.
“When I was playing seriously, I was always either a right or left fullback but now the team sticks me up front,” he said with a chuckle. “I have lost all my pace so the team knows they need to put the ball at my feet.
“There was a time last season where I was chasing a through ball and one of my own teammates ran past me like a gazelle. Fortunately, he was on our side.
“I have learned to be in the right place at the right time and if I get the right ball, I’ll put it in the net. I did score a few goals last season.”
Not even a pacemaker to fix his irregular heartbeat could stop David from playing the sport, and the only thing apprehending the Brindabella Blues Life Member from strapping on his boots for another season was COVID-19.
“The Masters competition is laid back because we aren’t playing for sheep stations but there is a competitive spirit within the competition. I think its a great comp,” David said
“If this Coronavirus hadn’t have come along, I would be out there training for this year. I want to keep trying out each preseason and if I can do it, I’ll keep playing.”
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