When it comes to football, few families have seen success like that of the Riolis.
- The Rioli family has played a combined 1,001 games for St Mary’s Football Club in the NTFL
- Nineteen Rioli family members have played senior football for the club over four generations
- Five have gone on to play AFL, including Norm Smith Medal winners Maurice Sr and Cyril Jr
From the Tiwi Islands to the game’s biggest stage, the Rioli name is famous for the exciting brand of football they bring to the field.
Now, the family has reached another major milestone, this one, with the club that started it all.
This weekend, the Riolis played their 1,000th game with St Mary’s Football Club in the Northern Territory Football League.
The number surpassed when three Riolis — Shannon, Ben and Maurice Jr — lined up for the club in Darwin.
Ben Rioli said the milestone match meant a lot to his family.
“To play with family, it’s something really special to us, we are a really close knit family and footy is what we do,” Ben said.
“To have family members around you, it just makes you feel good.”
Ben has played for St Mary’s since he was a junior, and said he was proud to run out as a Rioli.
“There is a little bit of pressure but I think that’s why you play footy, because you enjoy the pressure,” he said.
Ben said the number of family members going to the game, added to his determination to win.
“The cousins are going to be there so I know I can’t not perform cause I know I’ll cop it,” he said.
‘Today is pretty special’
The magic 1,000th match a day to remember for more reasons than one, St Marys took home the win, with each of the three Riolis kicking goals in the game.
A quick kick on the line from Shannon in the fourth quarter saw him take the crown of leading goal kicker in the family.
“That goal means I take over Uncle Willie and have the most goals for the Riolis,” Shannon said.
“To do that today is pretty special.”
Shannon designed the commemorative jumpers worn in the match, which incorporate his family’s dreaming.
“The yellow depicts Air Force Creek, which is near our country on the Islands,” he said.
“Then on the turtle shell there are four plates going down the middle which represent the four generations of the Riolis who have played at the club.”
The football dynasty has been a constant presence in NTFL, but have also produced the likes of AFL stars Maurice Sr, Cyril Jr, Willie Jr, Dean and Daniel.
Maurice Sr led the charge in the 1980s at Richmond, winning a Norm Smith medal in the 1982 grand final.
In 2015, his nephew, Cyril Jr Rioli was awarded the same honour playing for Hawthorn in the premiership match.