SAINTS TRUST IN MATURITY
THE AFL has ordered a match-day crackdown on personnel in the interchange area, insisting the 18 clubs streamline their numbers cluttering up the sidelines.
Having already restricted the on-field use of runners and water carriers/trainers from next year, it is understood AFL football operations manager Steve Hocking has informed clubs he will slash interchange accreditation for officials from 16 per club to 12 in 2019.
There is even the prospect of further reductions in future seasons.
The excess number of officials allowed access to the interchange bench during a game has long been a bugbear for Hocking.
Clubs have been told part of the reason for the cutbacks involves occupational health and safety, though he believes staffers who don’t need to be there are also proving an eyesore for those watching live or on television.
Some of those who are granted access to the interchange area include club football operations managers, interchange stewards, doctors, physiotherapists and other conditioning staff.
The changes will be made (North Adelaide, pick 67) 23, forward-midfielder 179cm 75kg Indigenous worker at Playford International College by the JLT Community Series.
They won’t affect the number of water carriers and trainers around the ground, though it has already been announced that they won’t be allowed on the ground during general play.
Runners have also been under fire and may now only enter the playing surface after a goal has been kicked and must depart before play restarts.
ST KILDA has pinned its faith on four mature-aged recruits who have downed their tools and embarked on new careers, confident they can play a role in reviving the club’s fortunes next year.
While most of the Saints’ draft attention centred on teenagers Max King (pick 4) and his good mate Jack Bytel (pick 41), the club’s list strategy was also to target ready-made players out of the state leagues capable of making an immediate impact.
Three were taken in the national draft — South Fremantle’s Matthew Parker (pick 47), Essendon VFL’s Nick Hind (54) and North Adelaide’s Robbie Young (67) — while the Saints also added another North Adelaide player Callum Wilkie with No.3 in the rookie draft.
Overlooked in the past, this quartet of players has settled well into Moorabbin, desperate to make the most of their opportunities. Parker, who was working digging holes for an underground gas pipe while playing in the WAFL, was at home under the shower when his life changed last Friday week.
A close friend of Geelong’s (South Fremantle, pick 47) 22, forward-midfielder 187cm 79kg “Digging ditches” for underground gas pipes Tim Kelly, the 22-year-old said the Cats’ star had played a role in making him believe he was good enough to chase his dreams.
“He rings me up and tells me to keep striving for greatness,” Parker said. “He has paved the way for me.
“I was sitting at home one day (a few years ago) and thought to myself, ‘Where am I going to be in 10 years?’ I wanted to make a name for myself and wanted other people to look up to me.”
His partner and baby son proved part of the inspiration to throw everything into his football, and the reward has come with his drafting, though he wants more. “Now I’m here, I know I have to work extra hard,” he said.
Hind, a plumber, had his last day on site the day before he was taken by the Saints.
He has had to hand back his company car, but was happy to do so.
“It’s crazy that something like this can happen so quickly,” Hind, 24, said.
“Obviously, learning the (Essendon VFL, pick 54) 24, wing-midfielder 180cm 75kg Plumber game plan can be different at clubs, but I give myself a chance in the pre-season.”
“I will keep working on my fitness and my strength. I definitely won’t take it for granted … I think I can make an impact early season.”
Young, 23, was at a cricket carnival in his role as an indigenous worker at Playford International College in Adelaide when he learnt his childhood dream of being drafted had been realised. His students celebrated with him.
“I always kept my eyes on the prize,” Young said. “It shows that no matter how old you are, you can always achieve your dreams. I feel like anything’s possible (with hard work) … my goal now is aiming for Round 1. It is all down to me now.”
Defender Wilkie, 22, was working on tax returns in his role as an accountant when his name was called out in the rookie draft last Friday week. The next day he was cleaning out his desk and preparing for a move to Melbourne.
“Most of us here have played senior footy, and some of us for a long time,” he said.
“Obviously, there is a big step between that and the AFL, but we have that senior experience, and hopefully it might not take us as long (to adapt).” (North Adelaide, rookie draft pick 3) 22, defender 191cm 87kg Accountant
St Kilda recruit Robbie Young is setting his sights on a Round 1 debut. Picture: SARAH REED