Marlion Pickett kisses his dad Thomas in the rooms after the 2019 AFL Grand Final.
Marlion Pickett kisses his dad Thomas in the rooms after the 2019 AFL Grand Final.

Pickett’s touching post match gesture

Marlion Pickett was the story of the AFL Grand Final. The Richmond midfielder went from former prisoner to a premier in the space of one footy match.

Pickett was fairly softly spoken after the match, deflecting in interviews as if all the fuss over his story and then brilliant debut performance of 22 disposals and one goal was a bit much - for him it seemed like it was just a game of footy.

His kids were even kicking the footy as their dad got the biggest cheer of all from the Richmond faithful when he received his premiership medal - they too were unsure what all the fuss about Richmond's number 50 and just the sixth player in history to win a VFL/AFL Grand Final in their debut was.

And yet despite all that the most touching moment came later on, in the Tigers' rooms, underneath the hulking mass of concrete and steel that is the MCG.

Pickett put his arm around his father Thomas who overcame a fear of flying to make the trip to football's mecca.

Marlion Pickett kisses his dad Thomas in the rooms.
Marlion Pickett kisses his dad Thomas in the rooms.

Thomas Pickett was sitting in a wheelchair, battling emphysema when his son placed the Premiership medal he had worked so hard to get around his neck.

Marlion Pickett and his parents after the 2019 AFL Grand Final.
Marlion Pickett and his parents after the 2019 AFL Grand Final.

It was arguably the most touching scene on a day of them for the Tigers but it represented just how far Marlion Pickett has come since being sent to prison in his late teens.

When he came out to greet the adoring Tigers fans he did not have his medal on either - he let on where it had gone.

"I put it around my old man's neck," Marlion said.

It was a classy gesture from Pickett who was clearly more in his comfort zone playing footy than he was doing media - teammate Dustin Martin had earlier described Pickett as "quiet" before on Sunday he described Pickett's meteoric rise as "the greatest story in AFL history".

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick called Pickett "a bloody star" as the team got on stage at Punt Road.

Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin lauded Pickett for the ease with which he walked onto the MCG and dominated the Grand Final, but also admitted it left him slightly upset.

"His role in the game was incredible to watch," Cotchin told Channel 7.

"Someone who in their first game of footy looked so at ease with the time and space and made the game look easy, which pi**es me off to be honest - the game is not that easy."

Pickett seemed less concerned and as he tells it is happiest when he's on the footy field.

"If I'm playing local, WAFL, AFL - footy's footy," Pickett told reporters amid jubilant scenes in the Tigers' rooms after Saturday's grand-final triumph.

Marlion Pickett of the Tigers celebrates the win with the Premiership Cup.
Marlion Pickett of the Tigers celebrates the win with the Premiership Cup.

"Footy is home. It takes my mind off a lot of things. If I'm playing footy, I enjoy the day

"Probably the reason why I'm here doing what I'm doing is because of the obstacles I have faced in life. All the sacrifices I had to make (to) keep putting my family first."

And put his family first he did, giving his premiership medal to his dad showed not just what a star he is on the field but off it as well.


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