Paddy Ryder returns to the Essendon Bombers as Indigenous Player Development Manager

“It’s always in the back of my mind to return to the club that gave me my first chance. I’ve always wanted to go back there and pay the club a little back.

“It’s been nine years and I have a lot of fond memories and great relationships with Essendon… It was only this year that the club approached me and I made a decision about what I was going to do after football and it all just fell into place ‘ Ryder continued.

“As a player [I] Maybe it felt a bit different but right now… I’ll do whatever I can at the club to push the club standards up and get the Bombers back where we belong.

Paddy Ryder fought Josh Fraser in the ruck in 2009.

Paddy Ryder fought Josh Fraser in the ruck in 2009.Credit:Pat Scala

Essendon was a pioneer in recruiting and promoting First Nations footballers under Kevin Sheedy, and Ryder said he wants to continue that work both within the club and in the community.

“We now have six indigenous boys on the list. When I got back to the club we had numbers like that and like, seven, eight, nine,” he said.

“It’s a big focus and to be a part of that I’ll be really proud of. I’m really proud that the club has hired me to help in this area and move the club forward.

“Everything I’ve learned in my journey through good and bad, I can help them with all of this experience.”

Ryder had the locker next to Davey’s during their playing career and will now look after his sons Alwyn junior and Jayden. Davey was number 29 and Ryder number 30.

“We sat next to each other in the lockers and I spent a lot of time in her house. So, I remember seeing them when they were little guys and just walking around… They’re kind of family to me,” Ryder said.

“I’ve known her for a long time, so yeah, just come back in and be her family at the club while her parents live in Darwin.”

Ryder will also reunite with the likes of Michael Hurley (development coach), Dyson Heppell and Zach Merrett from his playing days.

“I saw hurls today walking in there and I saw his big smile … Working next to him every day and seeing his face and also Hepp some of these guys are just, [we] always so well understood and [I’m] really like her. So yeah, I’m just really looking forward to getting back on there.” Paddy Ryder returns to the Essendon Bombers as Indigenous Player Development Manager

Ryan Sederquist

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