Sports gear from fan favourite players are worth a lot in any AFL Store, and it’s always a special occasion for any fan to get it, even more so if the original owner hand-delivers it to them.
That was exactly the case for St. Kilda draftee Max King, who had the honour of inheriting the #12 Guernsey owned by the Saints icon Nick Riewoldt. Riewoldt returned to the AU from his extended stay with his in-laws in Texas in order to personally handover his old #12 Guernsey to King in person on December 17, Monday.
Riewoldt, who is currently recovering from knee reconstruction, is the longest-serving captain in St. Kilda history, and made the number his own during his 336-game career, which he ended in 2017. He made a statement on the club’s website, saying that he’s thrilled to pass the number on to Max, describing the draftee as an impressive young man with incredible potential both on and off the field.
The St. Kilda icon sympathizes with the new blood, saying that it’s been a tough year for the latter, as he too had injury concerns in his first season. Riewoldt says that King has faced his rehab with professionalism, and he believes that the club has been happy with how he’s been doing.
Riewoldt says that presenting King with his first #12 was a special moment, and he hopes that King enjoys playing in it as much as he did.
King, who has been a lifelong Saints fan, expressed disbelief at what happened, describing it as something straight out of his dreams. He describes being drafted by the Saints as incredible, and being given the jumper by his idol as unimaginable. King hopes that he can do Riewoldt, the club, and the supporters proud.
He’s not the only new recruit that’s received Guernsey. Callum Wilkie received former goalsneak Stephen Mine’s old #44, while ex-Swan Dan Hannebery, former Demon Dean Kent and former basketballer Sam Alabakis had already received their own numbers, getting 10, 25 and 45, respectively.
Among other number choices that many an AFL Store will have to reflect, Nick Coffield received the #1, while Rowan Marshall took up the recently retired Sam Gilbert’s #19, while Ben Paton took Coffield’s free #33.