19/04/2024

As a kid growing up in Melbourne, the heart and soul of Aussie Rules football, I was always on a quest to know more about our great game, its players and the golden eras before my time.

I was hungry to be able to make a clear and concise argument about who was the best at their specific craft – the fastest, the strongest, the meanest and so on.

It definitely helped having a father who had watched countless matches of footy at both professional and amateur levels from the 1970’s onwards.

I would ask the questions and Dad would feed the concrete answers.

Gary Ablett Snr was the greatest to ever do it and no one kicked a ball further than Malcolm Blight, or so Dad thought.

Over time and more so in the modern era, generational players like Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin and Michael Voss forced my Dad to reconsider his opinions on the game’s outliers across his all-time lists, yet one has never changed.

Dad was adamant they didn’t make players harder and tougher than ‘Flea’, or rather Richmond Tigers immortal, Dale Weightman.

“Hard as a cat’s head,” Dad repeated so often.

The name Weightman may ring a bell for those new to the game, but I can assure you there is no known relation to Bulldog’s small forward Cody Weightman. The Footscray faithful must have thought using the same nickname ‘Flea’ was a bright idea, others not so much.

The real ‘Flea’

It is out at Tullamarine where you will find another ‘Flea’, Dale’s second of three sons – Kyle Weightman, who has played seven games for the Essendon VFL team in 2022.

Growing up in Strathmore and playing sport down at Lebanon Reserve in the mid to late 2000’s is a time I will always remember and where I got to know the Weightmans – a cool, calm and collected family who innately knew how to play the game.

Kyle told The Inner Sanctum that he was aware at a young age that he lived a different life to the average Joe, or the average kid running around at the Strathmore Football Club.

He knew exactly what his dad had accomplished, notably a premiership in 1980 and earning honours into the AFL Hall of Fame – the list of achievements goes on.

“The obvious answer is yes, it is a different life. I never actually saw Dad play, but I guess it really hits home when you go with him to a game,” Weightman said.

“It’s a two hundred metre walk from the MCG to Punt Road and we would get stopped every two steps by a fan wanting to take a photo and have a chat.

“He always has time for the fans, then again he absolutely loves it.”

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Where such a relationship gets interesting in any example of a child carrying on the legacy of their famous parent is their involvement as a critic and spectator in their shared sport.

Dale kept his coaching duties to the summer during cricket season in the early days, making him a regular spectator at Kyle’s football.

“If you didn’t hear anything from him, it usually meant you had a good game, but he would definitely have a few words to say if you had a stinker. I think that is what his old man was like,” Weightman reflected.

“More so now he is on the supporter side. My brothers no longer play so whether it’s down at Strathmore or Essendon he is usually their enjoying a few cold beers. I think he loves coming down to watch.”

Nothing about Dale Weightman suggests Kyle would’ve made his way through the ranks of footy as a key position tall. With the added pressure that naturally comes with being a known identity in the system, Kyle’s desire to have a crack at testing his potential almost slipped away.

“It was around 17 to 18-years-old I stopped liking going to training and started to turn my nose up at things like rep footy. I thought they were only looking for the big and athletic talls.

“It wasn’t until I started playing senior footy at Strathmore when I realised it didn’t matter how short I was. I probably wish I put in a little more work when I was younger so I could’ve got to where I am now a bit sooner.”

Outside of the seven games Weightman has played in the VFL, the Strathmore Football Club, which competes in the EDFL premier division, has enjoyed the goal sneak’s presence upon return, kicking a huge tally of 25 goals in seven games for the ‘Griff’.

Rival teams and their supporters are quick to let Weightman know about his name.

“Week in week out I will cop the extra attention and have people bring up the old man from over the fence. I actually love that stuff, it gives the game a bit more flavour,” Weightman said.

Yellow and Black glory

The last few years have marked Kyle’s strongest span of growth in his football career to date and have most certainly delivered the greatest benefits of carrying the Weightman name.

This is with direct reference to the recent dynasty his beloved Tigers were able to deliver.

“The benefits rather date back to some of my earliest memories,” Weightman reflcted.

“Faking a ‘sicky’ at school so Dad would have to take me to work at Richmond, next thing you know I am having a kick with Richo [Matthew Richardson] and playing up in the rooms.

“Of course the recent premierships are the highlight, especially the 2017 flag. Going in the rooms after the win, attending the after parties, its been unreal. It was just unbelievable timing considering I had just finished school.”

Donning the sash

Kyle is very grateful for the environment the Essendon Football Club has provided for him to develop his game, and very expectedly wants to play more footy at the VFL level in years to come.

“I’ve had a few good games and made a couple of good highlights that I have probably watched a few too may times,” Weightman laughed.

“Nonetheless I most definitely want to keep playing at a level as a high as possible.”

With the season coming to an end and Strathmore riding some very hot form, Kyle’s eyes are locked on the EDFL finals series and is confident his team will have the opportunity to lift the cup at Windy Hill for the first time since 2014.

A possible EDFL premiership and chalking up some numbers in the VFL is no resume on his father, but most importantly it continues an Aussie Rules legacy close to the hearts of Richmond fans.

Donning the yellow and black in the future is most certainly not out of the equation for Kyle Weightman, despite being moved on from their program some time ago.

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