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The “mystery” of a former Richmond prodigy


Whenever a number one draft pick doesn’t reach his full potential, it raises plenty of questions.

Selecting a largely untried teenager with the very first selection can sometimes bring with it a poisoned chalice.

In 1989, the Richmond Football Club spent their top pick on a teenager by the name of Anthony Banik.

He arrived at Punt Road as a prodigious 16-year-old in preparation for the 1990 season with enormous wraps and even bigger expectations.

The first two seasons it was all going to plan from an individual viewpoint, even if the Tigers were battling away, before the Woodside product was struck down by chronic fatigue in 1992.

It proved to be the beginning of the end of his career at the elite level, which finished on 49 games.

Former teammate Wayne Campbell knew all about Banik’s enormous potential and how the Tiger faithful yearned for him to be a special player but wondered why it didn’t quite work out.

“He was always going to be number one,” he told SEN’s Bob and Andy.

“As a 17-year-old he goes down and plays, I’m pretty sure, 22 games straight. Just stepped into a half-back flank.

“I think he played something like 45 of his first 47 games and was a star. Sort of that Gary Ayres, good driver in heavy traffic type thing. He didn’t have a lot of pace.

“It’s sort of a mystery as to why he didn’t end up going on as much as (he could have), because he was a superstar, both as a junior, then played really good league footy.

“He got glandular fever (chronic fatigue), so that knocked him about a bit, then didn’t play a whole lot of footy after that.

“But just a wonderful fella, a country boy. The fame of being a number one pick, that never went to his head or anything like that.

“He worked pretty hard and played some good footy early days.”

After his time with the Tigers, which came to an end in 1994, Banik made his way to the SANFL where he dominated for West Adelaide, winning two best and fairest awards.

Banik then played with Sale before coaching home town club the Allies (Devon-Welshpool-Won Won-Woodside) to a premiership in 2003.

He remains one of three Richmond number one draft picks alongside Richard Lounder and Brett Deledio.

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