I was caught off guard when Luke Beveridge appeared in front of me last week.
We had our main session on Wednesday and I was walking over to my mentor Jamie Maddocks to do some extra work.
As I was walking up to him, Bevo popped out from beside him where I couldn’t see. He put his hand out and said “congratulations mate, you’re playing your first game this weekend.”
I called my mum to tell her the news and she found it a bit odd that I was ringing. She actually said, “are you ok?” I told her “I’m fine, I’m just a little bit shocked,” and she asked what was wrong.
I said, “you’re going to have to fly over tomorrow night,” and she picked up was going on. I told her I was debuting on the weekend and she was very emotional.
She started crying, which made me tear up a bit and we had a little moment together, which was really nice. It was a feeling of relief but also knowing that it was only the start of the journey for me.
Once I’d found out, a lot of the boys told me not to change my routine or do anything differently. I just went about the rest of the week the same way and I didn’t actually overthink the game too much, which was good.
I was very surprised with how much sleep I got on Thursday night — I had about nine hours. I usually have chamomile tea the night before a game and that relaxes me before I go to bed. That’s part of my routine, so it helped me stay calm.
Friday was game day so I slept in a bit and then had breakfast with my housemate Josh Schache. We caught up with mum and dad at the café not far from my house. That was good because I didn’t really want to talk about footy, I just wanted to blabber on about something else!
After that Josh and I just went back home and chilled out, watched a few TV shows and played a bit of Fortnite, which was pretty good to keep my mind off football. I always like to go for a walk before a night game, so I walked around the block a few times and started to visualise what I wanted to do during the game.
I came home and had a bit of a nap before making lunch and getting into some snacks. That’s what happens when I get a bit nervous, I start to eat!
Once we got to the ground, I had my guernsey presented by Jamie Maddocks. Usually you get told who’s going to present your jumper but I had no idea. I didn’t know where Jamie was and I was looking around and then he came out of the back of the playing group and appeared out of nowhere.
That moment really meant a lot to me — he and I have been through thick and thin together. I know he’s a coach but I think I’ve helped him a lot with his development as a person and he’s done the exact same for me in return.
I had a pretty big group fly over from WA for the game — my mum and dad, two of my sisters, a few nephews, a niece and her partner all made the trip. From what they’ve told me, I think Mum was the most nervous before the game!
When I was running out through the race and onto the field, parts of it are actually a bit of a blur now. I had a look around before running into the banner and it was like a wave of excitement.
A lot of emotion hit me, and I just thought to myself “gee, this is good to be a part of, hopefully I can do this a lot more often”.
I didn’t remember my first touch until it came up in my personal review with the backline coach. It was around the goal square at Geelong’s end and I picked up the ball and handpassed it to Josh Dunkley.
He was falling over as I passed it but with his quick hands he got it away. When I looked back on it, I was thinking “what was I doing?”
It was a moment where I’m not really sure what I was doing!
The very end of the game, when Harry Taylor had taken the mark to have the shot after the siren, is something I will never forget. I felt like my heart had just jumped straight out of my mouth — I was a bit lost and just hoping that he wouldn’t kick it.
Roarke Smith and I were nearest to Harry when he took the mark. We were the ones standing on the mark at first and then next thing we knew there was 16 other players behind us trying to distract him. In hindsight, I think we did a pretty good job of it!
Once he missed it was a blur — I think Lachie Hunter tried to hug me and it was like I was trying to hug him back but I accidentally brushed him off a bit.
After we’d sung the song, had our debrief and played a few tunes, I went to see my family and I ended up being interviewed by Brian Taylor, which I wasn’t really expecting — he catches you off guard!
I think mum was a bit more shocked than me with that because she ended up getting interviewed as well.
She did a great job but said she felt really embarrassed. I just told her that she did well and Brian came back to say well done after he’d finished doing his Roaming Brian segment.
It’s every kid’s dream to win your first game. It was like something straight off of a movie script — it felt like it was meant to be.