Fans Players

Players’ Voice — Tim Kelly

Every now and then, I catch a glimpse of my Facebook memories, the function that shows you posts you made from the same day years earlier.

It’s crazy to see how much things have changed for me in the last 12 months. Everything has come together at the one time.

I became a father again recently, with my partner giving birth to beautiful, healthy twin boys on the 30th of December and that capped off a whirlwind few months.

While those Facebook memories can be a bit dangerous at times, it’s been incredible to see how our lives have changed.

One photo that I saw the other day was of my oldest son, Tykeem, and I. He’s grown so much and looks so different — come to think of it, we both look so different.

It really puts everything into perspective.

A year ago, I was just another WAFL player looking to make the next step. After years of nominating for the draft and the heartbreak of rejection each time, I knew 2017 was going to be somewhat of a last chance.

I’d made a lot of effort in recent years to return to pre-season training at South Fremantle in great shape so I’d be able to build on my fitness as opposed to returning to the level I’d left at the previous season.

Things like eating better and staying active are small changes that made a whole lot of difference in the long term — building that professionalism was a way to get better.

I stayed positive. There is a trend emerging in the AFL system where a few guys in their mid-20s are getting picked up so I never thought I was completely without a chance but it’s hard not being disappointed when your name doesn’t get called out each year.

I had some feedback from recruiters that I needed to get my hands on the ball more and improve my disposal efficiency — I worked tirelessly on these skills during the pre-season.

Ultimately, though, I wanted to play in a premiership with South Fremantle. The dream of playing at the elite level became secondary during the season and I had to block it out and concentrate on performing well for the Bulldogs.

I knew evolving my game and becoming a goal-kicking midfielder and building consistency would help my chances. I wanted to kick 20 goals for the year, averaging a goal per match, and managed to achieve that by the end of the season.

Geelong were interested since around mid-year but it wasn’t until a follow-up call from recruiter Troy Selwood two weeks before the draft that I realised the Cats were serious. But there was still uncertainty.

On draft day, I had my parents and my partner’s parents around at our house for a barbeque. When it got to pick 24, I had a funny feeling it could’ve been the one. I even turned to my partner and said, ‘I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they selected me right here,’ and on cue, my name was finally read out.

The place erupted. Everything I’d dreamed of was finally a step closer to being a reality. Although there was mixed emotions for our family as the reality of moving to Victoria set in.

The last few months have been such an adventure. I’ve moved to Geelong, having just gotten my new place, and my stuff is packed and on its way over.

My partner and my boys have stayed in Perth so we can have time to adjust before they relocate to Victoria. Hopefully they’ll be here around the Australia Day weekend and we can start our new lives together.

The club and my teammates couldn’t have been more supportive so far. Training has been exactly how I imagined it and, if anything, it’s made life a bit easier.

Coming from the WAFL, we trained three times per week on top of our everyday jobs and balancing our family/social lives. There were days I’d leave the home at six in the morning and return more than 14 hours later.

It’s a relief to fit the weights, running sessions and general training in during the day.

I’m a realist and understand I haven’t accomplished anything in the game yet. While it’s important to reflect on the extended journey I’ve had to get to the AFL, I want to play on the big stage.

Whether it’s Round 1 or Round 20, I’m here to play so I’ll definitely be putting my hand up with respect to the quality of players around me who all want the same thing.

Last January, I was preparing for the year that would eventually change my life. And as I look at my Facebook memories, I couldn’t be more excited to create some new ones.