Richard Oakey was a West Augusta stalwart whose promising career as a Norwood ruckman was cut short by injury.
Born on 5 February 1941, he made his football debut as a West Augusta Colt at the age of 12. He worked his way quickly through the grades and was most unfortunate to miss West Augusta’s 1959 premiership in the Spencer Gulf Football League when a knee injury forced him out of the team on the eve of the grand final.
He was captain-coach of Wilmington in the Flinders league from 1960 to 1962. He won the Mail Medal in 1962 and attracted the attention of Norwood coach Alan Killigrew. Signed by Norwood, Richard was 19th man for two league games in 1963 and spent just five minutes on the field. He was named 19th man again for the second round of the 1964 season but came into the side when champion ruckman Bill Wedding dropped out. With Gary Gurney leading the first ruck and Oakey the second, Norwood fought out a draw with Glenelg . Richard kicked a goal in Norwood’s score of 10.20 – to Glenelg’s 11.14 – and held his place in the team for the rest of the season except for five games missed with an ankle strain.
Richard played in ruck apart from one game at full forward, memorable for one goal, a kick in the leg from West Torrens defender Tracy Braidwood and a whack from strongman Freddie Bills. In his two seasons at Norwood, Richard also kicked six goals in 22 Reserves games.
Richard answered the call of home and was captain-coach of South Augusta in 1965 and 1966, winning the Transcontinental Medal in the latter year. In 1965 he was vice-captain of the Spencer Gulf league combined team chosen from 12 clubs. In 1966 he captained that team in one match. Among his teammates were Barrie Robran and Graham Cornes.
In 1967 Richard returned as captain-coach to his original club, West Augusta, where his onfield ability and demand for discipline produced Spencer Gulf premierships in 1969, 1972 and 1973. Under his coaching, West Augusta won the Port Augusta Football League premiership five years in a row, from 1968 to 1972.
Although proppy, he was appointed playing coach of the combined Port Augusta squad in 1969. Free from injury, he was captain-coach of the combined Port Augusta squad in 1970 and 1971. He was often on one leg over five years before a debilitating cartilage operation in 1972 ended his football career.
Married in 1965, Richard and Marlene, their children Peter and Brenda, son-in-law Al and granddaughter Clare became avid Crows supporters. Richard retired to Gawler, satisfied with his football deeds but unfulfilled in another of his boyhood ambitions – to train an Inter-Dominion pacing champion
Richard Oakey died at Easter 2023.
P Robins, G Adams Sept 2020, May 2023