HRJ’s Head of Football interviews Archie Roberts
Tractor 14: The Tenacious One. Look up ‘tenacious’ in an old school dictionary and it says: Tending to keep a firm hold of something; clinging or adhering closely. Not readily relinquishing a position, strong principle and alertness, or course of action; courageous, determined.
Archie Roberts was born to play Australian Rules Football. Not just that – he was born a natural leader of the pack. When he arrives at the ground 45 minutes prior to the game, he is the voice. He’s always wearing a smile, and a much older head on his young shoulders. There is a glint in the eye – a look of ‘I have been here many times and I know what it takes… I have total respect for my mates, they might need a spark and when it’s needed, it will be me.’ Never confuse this as arrogance – it’s deep self-awareness. Archie is Tenacious.
The younger son of Ash and Lee-Anne is forging a name for himself. His nature is one to just brush off the attention, but his story is pure hard work, support from a great family and support from us at his local club.
When you live across the road of the best sports ground in southern Melbourne and have an appetite for everything contested, geared with a strong mind set, his development has seen him evolve during the last 12 months into one of two U16 lads in the metropolitan Melbourne to play at the National Championships in Victorian Metro Under 17 team.
Amazing, Yes, but this did not happen by chance.
COVID-19 has been devastating for many and remains so. In 2020, during home schooling, Archie was in Year 9 at Haileybury. At every opportunity he was out on Boss James, fine tuning his skills. I would often see Archie if driving past Boss James. He was out there kicking with his older brother, Oscar, or other mates (essential exercise of course).
He worked hard during skills sessions under former Sandy Dragons Coach, Josh Bourke. He did the extras under running coaches, and always did so with a smile on his face. Never one to big note, or talk up a moment, he is happier to slap a mate on the back than to receive one himself.
I was fortunate enough to coach Archie for four years – one as assistant coach and then three as coach. He was the captain of the team each year. His leadership style, even as a 10 year old, was always ‘team first’. His head down, no fuss approach was a joy to watch.
Recently I sat with Tractor Roberts for a chin wag. It’s easy to see why his mates love him, and his old coach.
Caggs: What is your earliest memory of football, Arch?
Archie: Kicking the footy with Dad or sprinting across the oval on a cold Saturday morning running to Auskick to see my mates. I’ll never forget being held up by you. Caggs, as the Auskicker of the week!
Caggs: Why football?
Archie: I’ve always loved footy. The best bit about playing footy is running out there with 18 of your best mates, getting around each other when a goal is scored and singing the song after the game. There really nothing better than that.
Caggs: Hampton Rovers runs in the blood, what do you love about it?
Archie: Living across the road from Boss James is awesome. Ever since Auskick, I’ve loved the Rovers and I’m looking forward to hopefully playing for them in the Seniors one day.
Caggs: The Roberts 14, please explain?
Archie: Dad wore it when he played at Edi-Asp. My brother Oscar then wore it and now me.
Caggs: Winning a few Lightning Carnival titles, what are your memories of those days?
Archie: Plenty of good memories from those days. My most memorable one was Mason Carrigan taking a hanger in our last Lightning Carnival.
Caggs: You were Captain in U11 when we made the D1 Grand Final. What memories do you have of the day?
Archie: We had lost I think one game for the year. At the time I didn’t realize how big the game was. But then we arrived at the famous Mentone playing fields where Oscar had his moment of glory. The day was special. Although we didn’t take home the flag, I learnt many lessons and I would do anything to go back to that day.
Caggs: Bringing East Sandy and Rovers together in U15, how have you seen this?
Archie: I thought it was an awesome opportunity for both clubs (who were not doing so well). To join two clubs like us – well that is scary for other teams. I go to school with many of the East Sandy boys and like the Rovers boys, they love it.
Caggs: You Dad, Ash, was back-to-back U15 D1-U16 Premiership Coach. Your brother, Oscar, kicked the after siren goal to win the U16 flag. Witnessing their deeds, has this sparked you to be your best?
Archie: Yeh, it’s awesome living with my family. I love watching Oscar and the Seniors boys play on a Saturday. And the premierships they won definitely sparked me to be my best.
Caggs: Seriously, was Oscar’s kick one of the best things in sport you have seen?
Archie: Hate to say it but yes, one, if not the best, moment that anyone at that game had experienced before. You cannot write that stuff. Everyone wishes for a moment like that.
Caggs: Living across the road from the best oval in southern Melbourne, do you think this gave you an advantage last year during COVID lockdown?
Archie: Boss James being across the road was massive last year. Every day for 4 months straight I would go there with my mates keeping fit and working on my kicking.
Caggs: Being coached buy the great Mathew Lloyd at Haileybury, how has he helped take your game to a new level?
Archie: Lloydy has helped massively with his professional approach to coaching and footy smarts. He gives time to help everyone, and he has helped me on things I need to improve on.
Caggs: The Vic Metro experience – what was the feeling like being amongst the best guys in Melbourne and as a bottom ager?
Archie: Playing with the likes of Ashcroft, Sheezel, Wardlaw and others was massive. I got to learn so much off them… how they play and what they are like off the field. This has definitely made me a better football player.
Caggs: What does the rest of 2021 look like if we can get back on the ground. And can the U16D1 win the flag?
Archie: Hopefully the U17 championships continue to go ahead against WA and SA, but aside from that, the U16D1 are looking in great shape to challenge for the flag this year.
Caggs: Finally, what advice would you give the U8-9s boys and girls who are early into their journey at Rovers?
Archie: U8 and U9 – your juniors will be some of the most fun you will have playing footy. Make sure to enjoy every moment because it will all fly past pretty quick.
After this semifinal against the U11 Zebbies, the term Tractor was heard. Archie just plowed the field.
As you can tell Archie is a great levelheaded guy who loves being around the boys. I will watch with great interest where the Tractor’s story takes him. Keep up the great work Champ.
Passion Teamwork Fun Respect
Paul ‘Caggs’ Carrigan
Head of Football
Hampton Rovers Juniors