“I was 17 when I got drafted. I moved across to Melbourne from Adelaide, spent three years at Essendon and was delisted before I turned 21.”
For every Dustin Fletcher or Brent Harvey that builds a 20-year AFL career, there are hundreds of players with stories similar to that of former Essendon player Luke Davis.
Selected with pick 64 in the 2010 draft, the early part of Davis’s footy career was the stuff footy fans’ dreams are made of.
“When I first came over to Melbourne, Angus Monfries and Cale Hooker picked me up from the airport,” Davis told aflplayers.com.au this week.
“I was just a 17-year-old kid. You watch these blokes on TV and then you’re getting picked up by them at the airport and they’re taking you to Jobe Watson’s house for a barbeque. You’re surrounded by all these AFL players and you go, where am I? Am I dreaming?
“A lot of people ask me, ‘what are AFL players like?’ And I say, ‘well, what are your mates like? They’re pretty much like that’” – Luke Davis
“Then the next day they’re taking you to training, you’re meeting James Hird and most of the boys – Dustin Fletcher, Mark McVeigh, Brent Stanton, all these sorts of blokes. They’re guys you look up to, and you soon realise they’re your teammates.”
Most draftees have a similar experience. It can be easy to forget that the bulk of those who make it onto an AFL list are die-hard footy fans.
Now 22, and no longer in the AFL system, Davis lives a life similar to most young men his age.
“Being young, there are still plenty of opportunities to pursue other things, like study, work and that sort of stuff.”
But Davis says one of the biggest lessons he learnt during his time at the Bombers was that his teammates were “normal blokes” too.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘what are they like?’ And I say, ‘well, what are your mates like? They’re pretty much like that,’” Davis said.
“That was probably the best experience – realising they’re all just normal people who obviously take their footy seriously, but just like to have fun like everyone else.”
Davis too took his footy seriously during his time at Essendon, and was close to debuting in his second year – he was named as an emergency for five games in a row – before injury intervened.
“But in my third year, I just couldn’t get back to that form.”
He was delisted at the end of the 2013 season and, though he still plays footy for Aberfeldie in the Essendon District Football League, his focus has largely shifted away from the game he grew up loving.
His recent energies have gone into developing Trackology, an app for mobile devices and tablets that allows users to track how much time they’re spending on various apps each day.
“The idea just came about through curiosity,” Davis said.
He and Cale Mcpherson, one of his best mates, wondered how much time they were spending on their phones each day and figured others might be just as curious.
“It’s all about productivity and trying to make people aware of how they’re using their time.”
The app has been designed with workplace efficiency in mind, but making people aware of how much time they’re spending on their phones in social situations is just as important.
“I remember when I’d go home, mum and dad would always say I was spending a lot of time on my phone. I thought that was interesting. For a lot of people, family time has turned into everyone just sitting around on their phones. Some people might not even realise they’re doing it.”
It’s been six weeks since the app was launched, and though Davis isn’t sure how it will be received by the masses, the response has already surprised him.
“We got a message the other day saying it’s pretty popular in Cameroon, which is interesting. We’ve got no idea why!”
Like many 22-year-olds, Davis isn’t entirely sure exactly what his future holds – he just knows that an AFL career won’t be part of it. He looks back fondly on the matches he played for the Bombers during the NAB Challenge, and is proud to have played against the likes of Scott Pendlebury and Matt Priddis.
“Footy’s the best job you could ever have. A lot of people said ‘why haven’t you tried to give it another crack’, but in my mind, I know I gave it everything I could.
“It was an amazing opportunity but I wasn’t up to that standard and that sits comfortably with me.”