‘I would have been happy just to play one game.’
It’s a line often recited by players speaking to media ahead of their 100th or 200th AFL games. But for Marcus Marigliani – a former Essendon rookie who played just two AFL matches in 2010 before being delisted – that perspective is a reality.
“To get that chance to play two games for the football club was amazing,” Marigliani told aflplayers.com.au recently.
“Obviously I didn’t play over 100 or 150 games, but I debuted against Jonathan Brown [in his] 200th, at Etihad Stadium.
“To kick a goal with my first kick was amazing. I look back now and think it was six, seven, eight years in the process. Playing VFL football, doing state screenings, junior football – to get to that one moment and let your talent, skills and all your hard work hang out… It really meant a lot to me.”
Marigliani was 24 when the opportunity to make his AFL debut came, having worked harder than most to get his chance.
“I felt really proud to represent the football club when they needed it” – Marcus Marigliani on being an Essendon top-up player in 2015
He had finished three votes short of winning the Liston Trophy in 2008, and was named in the VFL Team of the Year in both 2008 and 2009. He sacrificed a successful career in carpentry – along with the healthy salary that came with it – to take up a spot on Essendon’s rookie list at the start of 2010.
His VFL form throughout that season saw him emerge as a cult hero of sorts at Bomberland, with many supporters calling for him to be elevated to the senior list.
“You know your family and friends are going to support you, but to have the support of the Essendon fans, and to know they’re all behind you – even when you haven’t played a game – that’s a pretty special feeling,” Marigliani said.
After playing in the final two AFL games of the 2010 season, Marigliani was delisted. Disappointing as it was, the now 30-year-old can reflect on the way his AFL career shaped him as a person.
“There are a lot of values and qualities that I got from the football club, and it’s definitely helped me later in life, with coming to [face other] challenges.
“Accepting constructive criticism, setting goals and accomplishing them – there’s a lot that I’ve taken out of AFL football. It was only a couple of years in the system, but I was lucky that I was at an age where I could identify those core values of what AFL can bring.”
Grateful for the opportunity to be a Bomber in 2010, Marigliani was more than happy to repay the club by filling in as a top-up player during the 2015 NAB Challenge.
“I felt really proud that I could come back to the club that I got drafted to and, not only get a second chance, but represent the football club when they needed it.”
Marigliani captained Essendon’s VFL side for the remainder of 2015, before calling time on his VFL career.
He’ll play with Heidelberg this season, but will also spend 2016 focusing on his new business; Ice Me, a portable, affordable and safe way for athletes to have ice baths.
Scroll down to read more about Ice Me.
“At Frankston Dolphins, we used garbage bins, wheelie bins, tubs or blow-up kiddie pools to do recovery,” Marigliani said.
In an era where AFL players are expected to refrain from playing sports such as soccer and basketball, at risk of getting injured, it’s hard to believe some players are still asked to balance on an upturned bin or a slippery seat before climbing into a wheelie bin filled with iced water.
“These practices were unsafe and weren’t convenient.”
Recognising a niche in the market, he and friends Glenn Thomson and Daniel Sands took the plunge and went into business together.
“We designed a product we thought was convenient for football clubs, it’s affordable and safer for athletes.”
In its first few months on the market, Ice Me has been sought out by a range of athletes, from AFL, basketball and soccer players through to netballers and even motocross riders.