By Tyler Lewis
Footy reaches a moment of pure clarity when the highest level mixes with grass roots.
This week in particular AFL and local footy have intertwined to put a smile on many faces.
It started in many ways on Thursday night, with local product Judson Clarke making his long-awaited debut for Richmond.
Clarke had a passionate support group in tow with fellow locals Dermott Yawney, Mac Andrew and Miller Bergman cheering on his first two kicks – which both resulted in goals.
The 19-year-old finished the match with two goals but was more than impressive on debut.
Clarke spoke to the Gazette about a potential debut after his best afield performance against Footscray earlier this year.
“It’s a work in progress I think,” he said in April.
“The feedback has been really good, every week we go in and I just look at the vision and see where I can improve here and there.
“For me ultimately it’s (the focus) to just keep developing in that role I am playing at the moment and my forward craft as well.
“Keep chipping away at that and hopefully good things are to come.”
Simultaneously to Clarke rubbing his eyes to adjust to the Melbourne Cricket Ground’s bright lights, a man accustomed to those very lights laced up down at Glover Reserve.
Four-time premiership Hawk Luke Hodge will play for Devon Meadows this Saturday and was a week early to training, putting in the hard yards before the Panthers clash with Seaford.
As expected, he didn’t look out of touch in what is believed to be his first game of footy since retiring in 2019.
Those trademark orange Puma boots were prancing around, and he was waving directions to defenders like the good old days on a very cold and gloomy night last Thursday.
The Panthers clash with Seaford will kick off this Saturday 18 June at 2pm.