Being drafted from a regional town in Victoria to an interstate club, I didn’t expect to be playing my first AFL game so close to home.
I grew up in Castlemaine so when Kenny told me in a meeting that I was going to be making my AFL debut in Ballarat against the Western Bulldogs that weekend, I was stoked.
I quickly rang my parents and told them I was coming back to Victoria… to play a game of elite level footy.
It was only Thursday so I tried to stay as relaxed as possible for the rest of the week. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself so keeping things simple was the way I went about it.
We flew over on Saturday morning but I’d already packed my stuff well before then because I was so excited to get over and play.
Obviously, we didn’t get a massive crowd, there was around 6,500 there, but it was the best spot for me to play my first game because all my friends and family were there to watch.
I had played a few games at the stadium growing up and, after living in the region, I had a fair idea of how the weather was going to be.
I gave the boys a heads up that it was going to be cold despite how the weather is on the day.
Despite the smaller crowd, it was still cool hearing the noise of the cheer squad behind the goals and the build-up still had me a little nervous beforehand.
We stayed at a hotel close to the ground on Saturday night and I played the game over in my head a bit but not too much. I actually had a good sleep the night before the game.
Waking up on Sunday morning, I had breakfast and went back up to my room to lie down some more. I like to stay relaxed as much as possible in the lead up but I went for a walk and a stretch before going leaving for the game.
On the way to the ground, I was on the edge of my seat. I just wanted to get in there and have a kick on the ground.
Dad presented my jumper to me in the rooms beforehand. It was a special moment, not only for me but also for the whole family.
Before running out, I was joking around with my teammates, many of which I was playing with for the first time, to calm the nerves.
I don’t usually get nervous and the only time it affected me was just before running out. With the build up to the game, that was the only time I felt it.
But once I got a footy in my hands, I felt fine.
I started the game on the bench and I actually don’t really remember coming onto the ground – that part has blurred into one.
I remember my first touch – it’s something I’ll never forget despite how insignificant the disposal may have seemed. It was a special moment.
It was a nice, easy uncontested mark in defensive 50 – it was a bit of a cheap touch. I was still nervous about kicking the ball for the first time but I was happy with how it ended up.
Kicking a goal at the end of the match just capped off the whole day, though, and we had a convincing victory – the day couldn’t have been any better!
The whole experience was just really fun. From being told I was playing, to the flight over and finally winning on game day, I enjoyed everything. There was a whole different vibe around the club knowing I was playing and everyone made it a fun one for me.
The highlight, though, was running out for the first time. It was a moment I’ll never forget and the Gatorade shower at the end of the game was also pretty cool.