AFL Draft – Not Meant to Be

Two years ago I was fortunate enough to attend the AFL Draft held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre, I even wrote a piece for this very site which you can find at https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/a-night-at-the-draft-not-exactly-the-opera/. The grand plan for this year once my ticket to attend was sent, was to write about how the experience differed 2 years on. Everything was seemingly booked, the plans were all in place, money had changed hands for transportation and accommodation, I survived the Point to Pinnacle in Hobart (which reminds me to update my running blog)….everything looked sweet.

Unfortunately a series of events as disastrous as Richmond picking Aaron Fiora sight unseen in the top 10 scuppered the plans. It basically started with a flight cancellation and a re-booking onto the next flight which was unsuitable. With the earlier flight, I would have been able to check into the motel in Brisbane (it had to be Brisbane, staying on the Coast during Schoolies is bad for your health), catch the train to the Gold Coast and make it with plenty of time to settle. Fearing this I frantically reacted to book another flight thinking it was at an earlier time. It wasn’t until I was responding to Virgin Australia’s call on the way to pre-season footy training (I’m retired officially, this was just to keep some fitness up in my running off season) that I actually had booked the last flight of the day. It would be an expensive and embarrassing error reminiscent of Danny Roach’s selection by Collingwood at the turn of the century.

Things looked to be turning for the better the next day, having made the rescheduled flight with ample time to spare and even finding time to converse with a now former team mate who was heading to Brisbane for a science conference (he’s a secondary school teacher) and a Level 2 Coaching Course with instructors such as Simon Black and Mitch Hahn involved. The flight down was comfortable, landing on time but it meant that I had to make sure to get off the train earlier than I had wanted to with the prospect of a cab fare $250 cheaper than Nakia Cockatoo’s still to be settled. The alternate option would have been to fork out $170 for a private vehicle transfer so the $31 train fare would need to be sufficient. After arriving on the platform I would log onto twitter to show a little excitement that I was heading down to the draft when after my tweet I discovered the news about Phillip Hughes. No I didn’t cry but I must have taken about 15 deep breaths from the Domestic Airport station through to Fortitude Valley to at least gain a semblance of composure.

I wouldn’t get much further than Fortitude Valley, ironically enough the suburb where I would be camping overnight. It started to rain by the time the train stopped at Roma Street, which for non Brisbane readers is 2 stops after Fortitude Valley with Central in the middle. By the time the train got to the rail bridge to cross the Brisbane River en route to South Brisbane (recently reopened after being closed for the G20) it looked as though the world was going to end. At South Brisbane came a close lightning bolt and a crash of thunder the sound of which I hadn’t experienced for almost 12 months when the 1st Ashes test was interrupted.

A minute or so later the train slowly moved towards South Bank which was the next station on the line when the hail started. This wasn’t your average pebble sized hail, or even the golf ball sized stuff that is deemed newsworthy. This was more Potato sized hail clunking on the roof of the carriage and onto the platform (or onto soon to be damaged shade structures in the case of the platform that is currently under refurbishment). There was even some game lady on board who decided to open the doors to the train, allowing some hailstones to make an unscheduled entrance. The train would be stranded for many minutes and hours, and reluctantly any plans to attend this year’s draft were abandoned.

It didn’t mean I was unable to follow the proceedings, there was enough juice in the phone to listen to the top 10 picks amongst picking my way through leaf litter, flash floods and fallen road signs blocking parts of an intersection. Of course Bulldog fans like myself cared less than we would have, had we not traded the farm for a member of an illustrious club that now contains Paddy McCartin. The bulk of the draft was listened to at the motel with a Fox Sports tribute to Phillip Hughes in the background, although I was still able to concentrate somewhat and somehow on the footy. The surprise of the early picks to me was the fact that Peter Wright was selected by the Suns when they had ample players of similar attribute that weren’t of advanced age in comparison. Then again, if I learnt anything about Scott Clayton who had for many years worked in the Bulldog system, he probably had Wright as his number 1 pick.

As for our picks, plenty of discussion online has centred around the supposed similarities in player type the Bulldogs selected. I was intrigued by the selection of little Caleb Daniel, partially due to the lack of size and partially due to the exposure to senior footy in a top flight competition with South Adelaide. Whether the others can play a role will eventually be answered in years rather than in seconds, regardless of the relative patience of the fans. But at least for one night, despite the pall cast by the true Darkest Day in Australian Sport, many can see optimism in the new blood amongst their ranks.

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.

Comments

  1. Good one Mick. Any sign of locust plagues? Why the interest in attending AFL drafts? The bits of AFL and NBL drafts I have seen on TV have all the dramatic interest of Dancing/Cooking/Carpentering with the Stars to me. Do you have a professional interest or is it a chance to combine it with your other interests?

  2. No locusts but Southbank was a green out…..attending is something very different to the norm because it’s generally something we don’t get to do. For so long it was a closed shop whilst relying on a decent internet connection waking up awfully early on a Saturday Morning (8AM wake up for a 9AM start up here generally). Plus it’s also a good way to pass time on the second week of my leave from work and it’s a good excuse to get away.

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