By PETER ARGENT
Shane ”Shedda” Edwards is a heart-and-soul South Australian with roots entrenched in SANFL football.
On Sunday, the North Adelaide draftee will become just the fifth 300-game player in Richmond’s long-and-storied history, joining Tiger greats Jack Dyer, Kevin Bartlett, Francis Bourke and Jack Riewoldt.
A three-time AFL premiership player and All-Australian, Edwards was drafted by the Tigers with their second pick, selection number 26 overall in the 2006 AFL draft.
He had already played SANFL league football for the Roosters under coach Andrew Jarman earlier in 2006, becoming a third generation SANFL league footballer in his teens, and was also a member of the SA Under 18 team, coached by Darren Trevena.
“He was the most talented kid I ever coached,” 290-game Roosters legend and long term North Adelaide junior coach, David Tiller, said.
“Shane was doing things as a kid I couldn’t do at league level.
“He was a switched-on young man, he was ready to play.
“Wonderfully skilled, his hands were special with their ability to deliver the ball.
“He was always going to be a long-term AFL player.”
Premiership success for Edwards started back in 2005 when he won a flag with North Adelaide’s U19 team.
Promoted from the Under 17 team that season, Edwards was a member of the Roosters side which defeated West Adelaide in the Under 19 Grand Final at Football Park.
North was coached by his father Greg, with Edwards high amongst the best players, kicking a couple of second half goals.
Originally from community club, the Golden Grove Kookaburras, Shane, who receives his Indigenous heritage through his mother Tara, was described by his premiership coach Damien Hardwick as “an incredible talent” even before his trio of premiership successes.
“He (Shane) does things that only a few people can do,” Hardwick continued.
“The ability for him to get in and out of traffic and create goals for others is outstanding.”
Debuting for Richmond in Round Four, 2007, and nick-named “Titch” by the Melbourne media, Edwards was playing in his 11th season and 207th AFL game, when he became a premiership player.
He has been a key ingredient in this wave of success enjoyed by Richmond, performing strongly in big games, and is now a triple flag-winning Tigers Life Member.
Many at the MCG for the 2017 Grand Final suggested his performance against Adelaide rivalled that of Norm Smith Medallist Dustin Martin’s.
The following 2018 campaign saw Edwards capture All-Australian honours.
In the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous round game of 2019, Edwards won the Yooken Award as best-on-ground.
He was runner up to the club best and fairest in the premiership year of 2019, fellow Tigers midfielder Dion Prestia.
The Edwards family connection goes back three decades and incorporates four SANFL clubs.
Shane’s late grandfather Doug started his SANFL career with West Torrens in the 1950s, playing 21 league games for the Eagles, before he moved across to Prospect and played eight games in 1956-57 in the red and white.
Greg Edwards played in an Under 17 flag for Central District in 1978, and returned after playing a season of SAFA football for Salisbury North to become the Bulldogs’ first century goal kicker.
Noted for his strong marking ability after debuting in 1980, Greg Edwards kicked 104 goals in the 1982 campaign, before a freak eye injury the following season hampered his playing career.
He played one more Escort Cup preseason game in 1985, and had a couple of seasons with Ian McKay at Freeling including premiership success in the Barossa and Light competition, before venturing into coaching and administration.
He finished with 163 goals from 43 SANFL League matches in the red, white and blue.
He was CEO of the Port Adelaide Magpies, before taking on the same role at Prospect and being in charge of the Roosters, when they charged from fifth spot to lift the Thomas Seymour Hill Trophy in 2018.
Edwards has since returned to the Ponderosa, taking over from five-decade servant Kris Grant as the CEO at Central District last year.
Greg’s younger brother, Russell was an accomplished wingman-half back, playing through the grades at the Bulldogs, before moving across to Alberton and playing a handful of League games in the 1980s for Port Adelaide.
Shane’s younger brother Kym also made it into SANFL League ranks, playing four League games in the 2015 campaign, further adding to the dynasty.
Shane and partner Samantha have a two-year-old daughter, Mya, who will be part of the entire Edwards clan at the MCG on Sunday to celebrate his magical 300th AFL game milestone, in a pivotal match against the Brisbane Lions.
Now 33, still lean and lissome in movement, Edwards is an ornament to the game, his clubs and his family.
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