Jack Silvagni remembers it like it was yesterday.
It was the under-10s Grand Final, and Silvagni along with best mate and this week’s Rising Star nominee, Dan Houston, was playing for the Greythorn Falcons.
The duo were the leaders of the majority of their junior sides and it’s no surprise they had an influence on the game, but there was a passage of play that provided Silvagni with a memory he’ll never forget.
“Dan was a big kid, he was pretty heavy but he could kick the ball a mile, and in that game he kicked three goals,” Silvagni told AFLPlayers.com.au.
“Two of them came from what seemed like 50 metres out in under-10s and the other one he got over the top, so he ran into an open goal and stuck his hand up to celebrate before he kicked it — he was swirling it around — and he launched the ball so far over the fence that they lost the it.
“He was still going around and celebrating like he’d just done the best thing ever — that’s my favourite memory.”
Silvagni and Houston were joined at the hip growing up. The pair met through footy, lived around the corner from each other, and were inseparable during school holidays.
Their friendship has been as strong from day, and still is to this very day.
They had a friendly competition in their early years about who could kick the most goals in a season. Houston won the first battle but Silvagni pipped him the following year.
But the competition became more serious in Round 5 of this season when the pair did battle for the first time in opposite colours.
Silvagni said, he had a feeling the two would be alongside each other once more.
“I somewhat expected to play on him,” Silvagni added.
“He blindsided me and winded me once but I was just trying to chew his ear off the whole night and get inside his head. I was just talking to him and he was giving me nothing, he wasn’t even replying.
“It got to the point where we were down by 80 points and he finally let his hair down and started talking to me because the pressure was off.
“I had 18 touches, which is a career-high for me, and kicked a goal so I think I got the better of him, although we got flogged.”
That battle could’ve been a different story if Silvagni got his way six months earlier.
He was in his father’s ear in the hope he could use his Carlton list manager powers to secure Houston’s services pre and post national draft. The long-kicking youngster was initially overlooked before the Power swooped in with pick 45 in the rookie draft.
It would’ve been a dream come true for Houston who, as a mad Blue-bagger, idolised Stephen as a youngster.
While it was a talking point for the pair and while Houston was in an unusual position where he knew his childhood hero, he didn’t let it affect him.
“Dad was my favourite player obviously so to have a best mate have dad as his favourite player too made for easy conversation about footy,” Silvagni said.
“The funny thing was he never acted star-struck or anything like that around dad, he acted as if he was just his best mate’s father.”
Silvagni and Houston, for the first time, are continuing their footballing journeys apart.
While there’ll be many more on-field battles in the future, Houston will forever be the kid who celebrated after losing a ball over the fence in an under-10s game.