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“I didn’t even realise”: Former Richmond forward’s accidental SOS sledge


Stephen Jurica burst onto the scene for the Richmond Football Club as a teenager back in 1995.

With his hulking frame, Jurica helped himself to bags of four and five goals in his fourth and fifth games respectively, the first of those coming in a loss to Carlton in Round 14.

Following that effort against the Blues, the former Tiger admitted his naivety towards the situation having failed to obey coach John Northey’s orders.

He also managed to manhandle Stephen Silvagni, before misidentifying the Full-Back of the Century.

“I remember ‘Swooper’ (Northey) telling me, ‘Don’t go body on body with SOS. He’s too big, too strong’,” Jurica told SEN’s Bob and Andy.

“I thought, ‘Ah yeah, I’ll have a go at this’. I couldn’t believe I kicked four on him.

“I was a pretty naive young kid not knowing too much about who’s who and I remember shaking his hand after the game and saying, ‘Thanks for the game, Serge’.

“And he just looked at me like who in the hell are you?

“So, it was very embarrassing.”

Andy Maher suggested perhaps it was a hidden sledge towards the Carlton champion.

“He might have thought that you were sledging him. He might have thought that was a deliberate attempt to get under his skin,” Maher said.

But Jurica was adamant that he simply made a mistake.

“Oh well, I was too clever. I didn’t even realise,” he laughed.

The promising full-forward was the talk of the town after his early-career exploits.

Bruce McAvaney, who described him as a “big, strapping colt”, also exclaimed “when you’re talking footy, you’re going to be talking Jurica”.

It was some sort of welcome to the footy world.

“It was pretty special,” he added.

“Kicking five in a drawn night game (against the Bombers) was pretty good. The week before I kicked four on SOS.

“Lots of people were getting excited. Rex Hunt was calling me ‘Jurassic’. Bruce McAvaney of course, you’re talking footy, you’re talking Jurica.

“It was pretty special.”

The South Fremantle product, who these days is a successful barrister, explained why his career did not reach full flight after the initial take-off.

He was seen as the perfect foil for favourite son Matthew Richardson, who had been struck down by a knee injury earlier in 1995, but it did not quite go to plan.

“I was playing really well under John ‘Swooper’ Northey. We had a change of coach (Robert Walls) and unfortunately he didn’t see me playing much footy in the seniors,” he said further.

“I had a few injuries as well. If I was a horse, you’d pretty much shoot me, I was no good.

“A mixture of things kind of happened but surprisingly I didn’t kick on from there for the few reasons I just mentioned.

“I was a bit of a flash in the pan. There was a lot of hype and excitement but unfortunately I wasn’t able to take it to the next level and play decent footy for a while.”

Jurica booted 21 goals in 13 games in his debut season of ‘95 before finishing his AFL career in 1997 with 18 games and 25 goals to his name.

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