St Mary’s Corowa students Tamir Richardson and Rahni Dickins were left star-struck after meeting one of their AFL football idols and former St Mary’s student, Hawthorn’s Taylor Duryea in Corowa on Tuesday.
Duryea has played 101 games for Hawthorn, including two premierships and was in town for a football clinic with a few teammates and some new recruits for the Hawks including Luke Breust (161 games), Jack Gunston (163 games), Jonathan O’Rourke (27 games), Dylan Moore (drafted 2017), Dallas Willsmore (2 games, drafted 2014) and Harrison Jones (drafted 2017).
Students from schools in the area took to John Foord Oval for a chance to meet the players and learn some of the finer skills of the game through a series of drills.
Duryea was a hit with the students, especially those from St Mary’s Corowa where he had attended school.
“I remember a competition we had going where we would kick the footy to a certain point over the fence and just trying to kick as far as the Houlihans,” he told the Free Press.
“I really looked up to all the local boys who went on to play AFL.”
Duryea said the clinic, organised by AFL North East Border, gave country children a chance to “actually see potential heroes in the flesh”.
St Mary’s Year 5 Teacher Ruth Parkinson, who was one of Duryea’s teachers back in the day, remembers he was always “an active kid and very much team orientated”.
St Mary’s Year 6 Teacher Michael Howard said the clinic was great.
“It’s important for kids, especially country kids, because some of them don’t get to go to the AFL games and see the players up close,” he said.
“It’s great for the kids to learn some new skills and for the girls - with the big interest in women’s football – it is great to see they aren’t hanging back and that they are out there with the boys.”
Corowa High School students helped run the clinic.
The AFL players later visited schools in Rutherglen, Chiltern and Barnawartha.