Each year, fans and media alike focus on the potential heartbreak stories as we enter the most exciting week of the year.
But there’s also some unlikely fairy tales that take place on that last Saturday in September.
AFLPlayers.com.au highlights the most intriguing stories ahead of Adelaide vs. Richmond this Saturday afternoon.
How could you look past the former college basketball prospect who originally came back home to sign with the Perth Wildcats in the NBL. Upon signing on with Adelaide as a Category B in September of 2015, Greenwood struggled to find his feat at SANFL level in his first year with the Crows.
It wasn’t until the back end of 2016 that he started to gain confidence in himself, but failed to be selected in the senior side last season. On May 20, his dream became a reality at the Gabba and he hasn’t looked back since, playing 14 games and becoming a vital cog in their midfield group.
If the former Lobo could become a premiership player just two years after code-swapping, it would cap a remarkable journey.
Imagine your fifth senior game being an AFL Grand Final? It’s a rare feat, and it’s exactly what Richmond’s Jack Graham will face this weekend. The 19-year-old was drafted by the Tigers with pick 53 in last year’s draft, and had a limited start to his first pre-season due to hamstring tendinitis.
That setback was followed by an ankle disruption in mid-July, and at that point, he was at long odds to earn a senior call-up.
Incredibly, the first-year Tiger finally received senior selection in Round 22 against the Dockers in Perth, and has held his place in the side.
It had been 960 days between drinks for Andy Otten. Prior to Round 1 of 2017, Otten hadn’t played a senior game since Round 20, 2014 when he ruptured his ACL for the second time.
A lonely recovery period followed, and as he described in an exclusive AFLPlayers.com.au column, the former Oakleigh Charger doubted himself and whether he would make it back to the top level.
Those doubts would have subsided when he played 18 of the first 19 games in 2017, but after playing in the club’s draw against Collingwood, the 28-year-old would be forced to fight for his spot once again.
If it wasn’t for an unlucky hamstring injury for Mitch McGovern, Otten wouldn’t have featured in the Crows’ finals campaign and now he stands a chance to play on the biggest day of the year.
On the scrap heap for the majority of his time at Punt Road, not even the eternal optimist could have predicted that the former Giant would earn a recall in Round 22, kick six goals in that clash and then back that up with another five against the Saints in Round 23, then feature in both of Richmond’s finals, but it has happened.
As he pointed out in a Q&A with AFLPlayers.com.au in August, Townsend was exploring the potential of finding a new home midway through the season, but now he might live on in Richmond folklore as a premiership player.
“I am pinching myself in a way,” Townsend said at the time.
Suffering debilitating groin and hip troubles during the pre-season, the first half of 2017 was about building for the long term for Paul Seedsman. The former Magpie finally found his way onto the field in the SANFL after the AFL bye and fought his way into form and back into the Crows side in time for September action.
Incredibly, had Rory Sloane recovered from his appendicitis in time for the Qualifying final, the Adelaide speedster may not have taken his place. As it would turn out, Seedsman would be one of the club’s better contributors two weeks later in the Preliminary Final.
After 600 days on Richmond’s list, 24-year-old Nathan Broad managed his third game for the club in their 31-point triumph against Brisbane in Round 17. It was his first game since Round 16, 2016.
Before his stellar season with Swan Districts in 2015, however, Broad had all but conceded that he wasn’t going to make it at AFL level after four years in a row of being knocked back.
Remarkably, he has held his spot ever since facing the Lions and has become a mainstay in the rugged Richmond defensive group and his ascension mirrors the positive feeling at the Tigers in 2017.
Shortly after earning his way back in the team, he sat down with AFLPlayers.com.au.