For a small mid-west town of fewer than 1000 people, Northampton has always punched above its weight when it comes to churning out AFL stars.
And on Saturday, their sensational nine were celebrated with the unveiling of metal figurines on the main drag of Hampton Road outside the Miner’s Arms Hotel.
A total of 1718 AFL games, 1626 goals and five premierships have been won between Geelong dual premiership defender Harry Taylor, inaugural West Coast player Andrew Lockyer, current Eagles stars Josh Kennedy and Jamie Cripps, Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps, Eagles premiership swingman Daniel Chick, Fremantle champion Paul Hasleby, former Collingwood defender Tarkyn Lockyer and one-time North Melbourne midfielder Liam Anthony, who are all proud to call Northampton their home.
An idea first floated three years ago, it is hoped the figures will become a tourist attraction and will increase foot traffic in the small country town.
Patrick Cripps said it was humbling to be immortalised in his hometown.
“We’re all proud Northampton boys, we all loved growing up here,” he said
“To see so many people turn out today – so many people I haven’t seen for so long – it’s an awesome feeling.”
Harry Taylor said he wasn’t sure what it was about Northampton that kept the tiny town churning out footy legends.
“Community mindedness is a really strong value. Maybe a combination of a few things added together – water excluded – helps us grow up and play great footy,” he said.
A new beer, called 9 Legends Lager, was also be launched at the Miner’s Arms Hotel in honour of the milestone event.
The figurines were unveiled in front of hundreds of people, before a function was held at the Northampton Community Centre later that night, with about 300 guests a part of the celebrations with each player doing interviews and signings.
Hasleby said it was an unbelievable honour for all nine players, with eight there on the day, with Tarkyn Lockyer missing because of border complications as he lives in Victoria.
“When you grow up you just want to be part of the town and community, let alone have something like this being put in the main street,” Hasleby said.
“It is quite humbling and an honour for all of us.
“We’ve always had strong roots to the community, so if it can have more people stop in then it is a positive for the town of Northampton.
“And we hope we’re not the last to get statues here, with another 10 or so hopefully standing beside us in the next few decades.
“The Northampton community has always been so supportive of us and proud, so if we can give back anyway, then that is a real positive.
“Growing up for most of us we had someone playing in the AFL since Andrew Lockyer, so hopefully this helps inspire other young men and women in the region to follow their dreams and achieve big.”
It is not the first time this year that the town’s star football stars have banded together, with the group springing into action to raise more than $200,000 for those affected by Cyclone Seroja which swept through the region earlier this year.
The tropical cyclone left a trail of destruction, damaging 70 per cent of homes in Kalbarri and Northampton, back in April.
There are still homes in Northampton that are without roofs or significantly damaged, as the region continues to work back from the devastating night.
Jamie Cripps’ old family farm, now owned by his father John’s sister, was one which was destroyed by the storm, with the roof of the home missing, while fences and a shed were destroyed.