Richard Cochrane on Central District’s dominance: ‘I knew how good we were’
Richard Cochrane was a vital cog in the Central District machine throughout its golden era in the 2000s, winning six premierships. Almost 10 years after his SANFL career ended, the hard-nut rover went One on One with Jack Hudson to reminisce about his playing days.
Jack Hudson: Take us back to the start of your footy career when you were having a kick around with Elizabeth.
Richard Cochrane: I played out there from under 9s and went all the way through to under 15s.
I’ve got a twin brother, Garth. He and I, and my older brother, Stuart, we all went out at the same time.
Stu would’ve been in under 12s when we rocked up in under 9s.
I made some friends straight away and I’ve still got some good mates.
My best mate, we’ve been best mates from the first training session, and we catch up on a regular basis.
JH: What made you want to take up footy in the first place?
RC: Garth and I played soccer at the Downs, from under 6s to under 8s.
Under 9s was the first year you could play back then, there was no Auskick or anything.
I think we were always going to play footy, I mean we grew up with it – my dad and three uncles all played footy for Centrals.
We were a huge football family, we always went along to watch Centrals games from an early age.
Dad coached the under 19s there when we were only tiny little guys, so we’d been around Centrals since we were tiny.
We lived at Port Augusta for a few years there too, dad was a player/coach up there when we were just toddlers.
We were brought up around football clubs, and when we were old enough to play, we just took to it.
It was always going to be, I guess.
JH: When was the first time you walked into Centrals as a player?
RC: We used to have all those special squads, it was probably under 10s, you always go down and have your one game for the year.
As a regular player, when we joined the club, you had to sign on and that stuff, it was as a 16-year-old kid playing under 17s.
Garth went out there a bit earlier, he was a ruckman and I was a rover, so he went out as a 15-year-old.
As a 15-year-old, he played in the 1996 under 17s premiership, he was full back and was one of the best on the ground and won a premiership.
JH: What did it feel like to playing at the same club your dad had represented?
RC: I spoke to “Thommo” (Paul Thomas) last week, because he’s a real good mate.
I coach the academy team at Centrals now, and we took the team to Football Park and he took us for a tour around the Crows facilities because he’s out there, he said the same thing as me.
I said my dream as a kid was to play for Centrals because my dad played there, and we’d been going along since we were little kids.
Back then, I know the Crows came in when I was about 10-years-old, but still, as your coming in, even though the AFL existed, us Cochrane boys just wanted to play for the Doggies.
We’d seen that our dads have played, and Thommo said the same thing, he just wanted to play at Centrals as his dad played.
We’d seen all the photos, all the team photos and we were brought up with seeing all our dads mingle with the past players and that, and they were our heroes.
It was always my dream and I was lucky enough to go on and do it.
Now, I’m a third generation life member of the club, which I’m really proud of too.
My pa, (William Snr), and dad (Richard Snr) and I are all playing life members.
JH: Do you remember your first senior game?
RC: Yep, that was amazing.
It was the year 2000, and my uncle Peter (Jonas) was coaching the team.
We had a few injuries and some resting of players coming into the end of the season.
It was the third to last minor round game, I think I played the last three minor round games of 2000 in the league team.
It was about round 17 at Noarlunga against South Adelaide, it was very exciting
I was pumped, I knew that I was in giving some of the other players a bit of a rest, and I knew that I was just going to get a taste of senior footy, knowing I’d probably get the one game and look forward to playing a bit more the following year.
One game turned into two and three, but I was always told you’re in here, get a bit of experience and see how you go.
There were never any promises that I’d play finals.
I was hoping that I’d turn it on and hopefully stay in the side.
I had no idea that they’d go on and win the flag in 2000, it was amazing.
It was the only time I got to play alongside Danny Hulm, one of my heroes.
He just ran around the whole game pumping me up, I remember him constantly during that game, he was an amazing leader, and he’d make you feel like you were 10 foot tall.
I had two shots on goal and kicked two behinds, I nearly took a hanger on one of the ex-Crows players on the wing.
I thought if only I had just held it, but the whole game, ‘Hulmy’ was saying to just keep having another crack and that I was flying.
But I can’t remember my second and third game, I couldn’t tell you who and where we played, but I remember my first.
JH: When you got selected and realised you were going to play alongside your heroes, how did it feel?
RC: I couldn’t believe it, because I was happy playing reserves.
I went from in 1999 in the under 19s, halfway through the year I was playing in the reserves, then in 2000 I thought I’d play reserves all year, I’d be as happy as Larry doing that.
So, it was unexpected to get a league game, because I’d just been chipping along doing my thing in the reserves.
To go up and play against these blokes, some of them I’d watched in the 1990s when I went to the games.
I watched the 1995 and 1996 losing grand finals and saw these blokes, and five years later I’m playing alongside them, these were my idols.
Ricky McGowan, Damien Arnold and some of these older blokes, it was just amazing.
I was ‘little junior’, as my dad was team manager and he’s Richard Cochrane and I’m junior, it was just great running around with them.
I thought it was great just training with them, but to go out and play with them was fantastic.