In his own words the ex-AFL star, Jake King, was a knockabout kid before he found the game of AFL, working long hours as a labourer and often falling asleep on the bench at training session. Known as the “Push-up King” after a gruelling training session with fellow Richmond teammates, it was King’s skills in the 2005 premiership for North Heidelberg that caught the eye of recruiters. Raised on tough but strong family values, fellow teammates would say King was the kind of player you’d want in the trenches with you – ready to throw himself on the metaphoric hand grenade. Impressed by his toughness, tenacity, aggression and ball-winning ability, this “back-pocket-plumber” was equal winner of Coburg’s best and fairest award during his debut season in 2006.
Despite being offered a place with Richmond’s VFL associate, King feared his career would never take off. Often dismissed by the general public, King found the lack of pressure often aided his game but did leave concerns that he would be retired back to the tools. However, King made his senior league debut for Richmond, taking 12 disposals and six marks in his role as small defender. Thanks to his poise, pace and bravery, King retained his place with the team for the remainder of the season.
In 2010 the small defender was turned to the role of forward and approached it with his usual fierce determination, kicking 11 goals in the final five rounds of the season, seeing himself fifth on Richmond’s goalkicking list of the year. King further proved his ability to reinvent himself by taking the second most marks-inside-50 for a Tiger player that season. From that point on, King could only go from strength to strength. Though retired due to a foot injury, Jake King will remain one of AFL’s proudest success stories and an inspiration to young Tigers everywhere.