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Tom Lynch has a party trick. Everyone has some sort of party trick.
With barely a little pressing, but perhaps with a tall cold beverage or two involved, the blond footballer will climb on a pushbike and ride it backwards.
How he came by this knowledge is anyones guess. He wasnt a young BMXer, but it probably involved his mate Myles Pitt, the Sorrento Hotel and too much time on his hands.
Why is this relevant in a story about Lynch? Its not really, its just the most unusual thing to be found out about this most affable footballer.
Tom Lynch is the labrador of footballers. Warm and with a softness that draws people over to, OK, well, not pat him, but at least say hello. They want to be near him and hang out with him because he is easy company.
Gold Coast could have reason to be bitter and angry with Lynch, their co-captain of last year leaving the Suns. But theyre not. The only cross word they have of him is that he is not still there.
The teams which missed out recruiting him – Collingwood and Hawthorn – could snidely offer mutterings of how they really dodged a bullet or other such snippiness to make themselves feel better about missing out, but none of that is said about Lynch. They just gush about what a nice fellow he is and how much they wished they had snared him.
Lynch could have been the player who walked into a premiership team on more money than anyone in the team (all right, maybe not more than Dusty) and made them jealous. But he hasnt.
When you ask Lynch about Matthew Lloyd observing that he was a liability for Richmond early in the season (a criticism that didnt age well) Lynch smiles, mutters about knowing he was entering the fishbowl in Melbourne and sort of defends Lloyd.
“I think there was three or four weeks when I was down on numbers,” he said.
“One of the things I knew coming down to Melbourne was increased scrutiny but to be honest I spoke to 'Dimma' and to Andy McQualter, the forward coach. I knew if you listen to everyone you weigh yourself down.
“In goal tally I started the year OK but sort of the six-week mark when I wasnt kicking as many goals I thought I was playing better footy in terms of all those things like connection. I think it was in that period where I wasnt kicking the goals that I was earlier in the season.
He smiles too when asked about Alex Rance clumsily making the candid observation at Lynchs under-development when he got to Richmond. It was a comment intended to convey his excitement at Lynchs upside, but was taken as a slight on the Suns and their football program.
“To be honest I thought, I think it [Rances comment] was on the back of watching me do one-on-one drills and I was a fair way off it at that stage. I couldnt really pick up the flight of the ball,” Lynch said.
“We more or less had a laugh about it. I dont think he thought too much through, it was an off-the-cuff comment.
“I was just coming out of rehab and I wasnt picking up the flight of the ball – I find picking up the flight of the ball is the hardest thing when you havent played much footy, or for me it is. I was probably all at sea in the one-on-one drills for a while there.”
Suffice to say he is now picking up the ball very well. Lynch has steadily improved in form week on week. Coming off his posterior cruciate ligament surgery last year, the hope was for him to play round one, but his full fitness would take time.
It has only been since the mid-year bye that he has begun training twice a week. Prior to that he trained on the Thursday, but on a Tuesday he would just jog slow laps.
The trust in his knee, and in particular confidence to jump into packs to mark, has improved. He is happy to ruck around the ground now, but will still avoid the centre bounce because of the fear of damage from collisions.
“I just felt like I have built into the season not just me but the little things you learn with your players: who likes to kick it long, who likes you to lead up and being in a new club I had to learn that quickly,” Lynch said.
“I think picking up the ball flight has got better and the strength in my legs has got better throughout the season so [it's now easier] for me to read the ball better and launch into those packs better.”
Andrew McQualter first met Lynch when they played at Gold Coast. McQualter was the Saints veteran brought north to help the fledgling club in its formative years. He got a close look at the star boy forward.
“He was this quiet, friendly kid and I remember saying to him, Mate you dont know how much you remind me of Nick Riewoldt. And his face just lit up, he was only 20 at the time, and he just started giggling. He didnt speak he just giggled,” McQualter said.
The comparison was not out of place, but where Riewoldt carried his determination on his deep brow, Lynchs determination was hidden behind his boyish smile.
“Because he is such a rock-solid person one of the things that gets missed about him is how incredibly competitive he is on the field,” said McQualter, reunited with Lynch at Richmond where he is the forwards coach.
The second term that is quickly uttered by people about Lynch is he is fiercely loyal. That comment seems slightly at odds with the idea of a co-captain walking out on his club.
McQualter reconciles it by offering that Lynchs loyalty was shown in staying with the Suns as long as he did. But it was also his first, and keenest loyalty to his family and close friends in Sorrento that informed the decision to leave Gold Coast.
“I always think the most loyal people, or footballers, are the ones who are still close mates with their childhood friends and Tom is still really close with them all in Sorrento,” McQualter said.
Because he is such a rock-solid person one of the things that gets missed about him is how incredibly competitive he is on the field.
Andrew McQualter on Tom Lynch
Lynch still reddens slightly and shifts in his seat when asked about leaving the Suns.
“I did feel guilty leaving, definitely,” he admits. “Contrary to public opinion I was really weighing it up and first of all I just wanted to make the decision on whether I wanted to play footy at Gold Coast or not without entering too much into which club I might go to and what that would look like because I wanted to be clear in my mind if I wanted to move from a club first.
“It wasnt until half way through the year that I thought Id be keen to move home and when I got the news about going in for surgery it was best to sit down and really cement that I was keen to come home and I spoke to the club then.
“It was a tough position for both parties really. They were keen for me to tell them when I crystalised in my mind what I wanted to do. So I did that the best I could.
“I told the club – the coach and the CEO Mark Evans and key people and some close mates – and we thought it best if we didnt tell the rest of the playing group.
"I told them before I came down and then it was fairly well publicised when I met with clubs when I came down.
“If I was in their position [the Suns players] I would feel pretty disappointed because they werent privy to the information that I Read More – Source