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Celebrating a mate — Lids on Grigg

What’s the first thing I remember about Shaun Grigg?

We actually met just after he was traded to the Tigers at the end of 2010. We both just happened to be in Fiji with our respective partners and I recognised him from afar one night.

I thought I’d introduce myself and Shaun suggested we go for a drink later on but I never heard anything afterwards.

So we didn’t get off to the greatest start.

Luckily, things got better from there. We went on a pre-season training camp to New Zealand a few months later and Shaun was part of the small group of players I was leading around.

For some reason, his tactic was to bag me as much as he could over the four or five days, which was a brave thing to do at a new club but I really enjoyed it. I’ve always warmed to that sort of behaviour. We roomed together on that trip also and struck up a friendship.

From there, our relationship grew and we realised that we’re somewhat similar. We’re both country boys with strong family values – I know Shaun is very close to his brother and parents and I’m similar in that regard.

We also have the same thoughts on how footy should be played – to train hard but also enjoy the time with your mates.

He loves reminding me that he has a private school education. As you might’ve realised already, Grigga’s not short of confidence. He loves meeting new people and has many friends in many different places.

He’s never bored – there’s always something on the go for him – and he could talk underwater (I think that private school education has really inflated his self-esteem).

I was lucky enough to room with Shaun through a lot of interstate trips over the years. We had some great fun together but he does this weird thing with his teeth where he makes them click. I don’t know what it is or why he does it.

Speaking of weird things, he likes to wear trackies that aren’t the right length for him. I don’t know why he does that but he likes them just above his ankles. I don’t know if he’s constantly wary of a flash flood or something like that.

Back in the day, I hosted a regular dinner for a few of the boys at my place the night before a home game, where we’d have a feed, relax and play some table tennis before heading off to prepare for the game the next day.

Shaun was always at those dinners, he didn’t stop coming around until I left the club! We never went over to his house for a meal because he can’t cook to save himself. His wife, Sarah, is a very competent cook so he’s extremely lucky to have her, although he tells me he lived alone for a few years.

He even came over to mine while sick one night before a game against Geelong in 2014. I followed him around the house with Glen 20 because I didn’t want to catch anything and he eventually realised he had to go because he was ill.

He actually played the next day after eating only a bowl of ice cream in the morning because that’s all he could stomach – Grigga loves ice cream, he’s like a small child. He played against Joel Selwood and actually went pretty well!

But one of my favourite memories would have to be from a few years back when we had a small break in the middle of the year.

We went to my wife’s family’s place in Anglesea and stayed there for a couple of nights, played some golf and had a few beers.

One night, we hung out with a handful of the boys – there was Chris Newman, Jack Riewoldt, Sam Lloyd, Anthony Miles, Aaron Edwards, Nathan Gordon, Ricky Petterd, Grigga and myself – we had the Anglesea pub roaring on a Thursday night!

The other boys were keen to go back to their place in Barwon Heads not long after but they couldn’t find their keys so we were all looking for hours for them.

Grigga was saying he didn’t know where they were but wasn’t even helping us. As he sat down on the couch, he reached into his pocket and, sure enough, had the keys the whole time.

As you can imagine, we were livid and a few of the boys ended up giving him a blood lip. Grigga then cracked it and told us he was going to drive himself home that night – he wasn’t happy with us at all. We all laughed it off the next day, of course, which is part of his charm.

Shaun is genuinely good fun and very easy to talk to. He’s a lad but the thing that draws me to him is his reliability. I’ve noticed this even more now that I’m in Sydney, where he’s picked me up from the airport and at the hotel a few times and we’ve gone out for lunch and caught up with the rest of the guys.

He always asks me when I’m back and that’s what a good mate does. He’s keen to catch up with me but makes sure I see other people as well.

Even when I was away early days, he would feed and walk my dog. He’d go out of his way to do things for me like that and he puts other people first.

Obviously, 2016 was a tough year for me and ended up being my last at Richmond. Grigga knew what the feeling was like because he left Carlton earlier in his career so I spoke to him about how I was feeling throughout the season because I trusted him and valued his opinion.

Sure enough, we would play against each other in the Preliminary Final last year. I remember seeing him in the warm-up and he gave me a wink and a smile. He actually tackled me in the second quarter and drove his knee into my head, which, to be honest, actually rattled me a bit.

Afterwards I told him to watch out for the next time we played them. I think I tried to get him at Jack Riewoldt’s wedding a few times and told him I wouldn’t forget what he did anytime soon.

He’s always had that cheeky side to him. He’s a bit lippy but that’s part of the reason I love him so much.

Clearly, I’ve developed a bit of a bromance with him. The only time it gets in the way with our partners is when we’d go out or away together, where the girls tend to get left to their own devices, especially at weddings, and we might spend too much time together.

Luckily, our wives understand our relationship and it doesn’t affect them too much.

I loved playing with Grigga and 200 games is a huge milestone. He has a great ability to win a contested footy, which was present from his early days at the Blues as well – although he tells me his role was only to block for Juddy and run forward, he didn’t mind kicking a goal and still doesn’t!

He has a great work ethic. For a bloke who wouldn’t break 16 seconds in a 100 metre sprint, he just keeps covering ground and he’d always beat me in our time trials, no matter how hard I’d try.

Shaun is a father nowadays. He and wife Sarah have two beautiful kids, Sonny and Spencer, and they were one of the first people to stop by to meet our youngest, Charlotte, when she was born.

We’ve been on family holidays together and I feel like we’re family because we’ve known each other for so long, which is what it’s all about really.

Despite tearing him to pieces here, I couldn’t be more proud of the bloke. Grigga is wonderful person and I’m not the only one who thinks this, which is a testament to his great character.

I hope he gets the win and kicks a couple of snags, too!