Nights like tonight are what footy clubs are all about. This was the message from AFL footballers Sam Lloyd and Todd Marshall, who returned to their home club — the Deni Rams — to lead a one-off junior football clinic last Wednesday night while on their Christmas break.
It was a sentiment echoed by the new Deniliquin Rams Football and Netball Club president Clint Free as more than 80 youngsters turned up to greet their home town heroes, who started their careers on the Hardinge St Oval.
The junior footballers — both boys and girls — beamed with excitement as the two footballers put them through their paces with a series of skill drills for about 30 minutes.
Equally as many parents, and some die-hard Richmond fans, lined the oval, enjoying the fine weather and the atmosphere and cheering as the youngsters capped off the session with a goalkicking competition.
‘‘These sort of nights are what footy clubs are all about ... young people and families enjoying themselves together at a club,’’ Richmond forward Lloyd said afterwards.
‘‘This is what Todd and I grew up with at the Deni Rams and I jumped at the chance when I was approached to put on the clinic this time last year, and I think tonight was probably an even bigger turnout.
‘‘To see everyone smiling and having a good time is something special,’’ added Marshall, who made his debut for Port Adelaide late last season.
The two footballers stayed on after the skills session, retreating to the clubrooms where the Rams committee put on a barbecue and gave away some prizes.
Each youngster was given a raffle ticket on their way into the clubrooms, with some of the winners taking home an Auskick footy signed by the players among other prizes.
Free said it was a great night and something he would remember.
‘‘A lot of hard work goes into running a footy club, and sometimes you can lose sight of what clubs are all about. Nights like tonight make the hard work worthwhile.
‘‘Seeing all the families enjoying themselves, and at the same time admiring and celebrating two of our own who have gone on to forge AFL careers — it’s pretty special.
‘‘We can’t thank Sam and Todd enough for giving up their time for the second year in a row. They’re great young men who you always see back at the club when they’re home. Everyone at the club wishes them well for the season ahead and hopefully we can make this an annual event.
‘I’d also like to recognise and thank our junior footy coordinator Anthony Bradley for organising the night ... he did a great job once again.’’