From the moment he nailed an after-the-siren goal to clinch a much-needed win against the Pies in Rd 3, you just knew it was going to be a big year for Zac Bailey.
Those who hadn’t quite caught up with the hype around the Northern Territory speedster couldn’t escape it that night when vision of him calmly slotting the goal that gave the Lions their first win of the season went viral.
Lions fans will forever believe the moment came a week too late after he was controversially denied a holding the ball free kick against Cats star Mark Blicavs in the dying moments of the one point loss.
They say seven days is a long time in football and there is no doubt that when Bailey lived out every footballer’s childhood dream to nail a clutch goal after the siren to secure a victory, he also breathed new life into the Lions season.
From there the Club went on a roll and 22-year-old Bailey, spending more time in the midfield, was one of the main drivers.
In his fourth season in the AFL Bailey increased his average disposals per game from 13 to 18, six times he got more than twenty.
His best return was a 29-disposal effort against North Melbourne in Rd 14 and there was also a 27 possession effort against Collingwood in Rd 22 and against both Fremantle and Adelaide he had it 26 times.
And with more of the footy, the more dangerous he became offensively.
He booted bags of four goals against Richmond in Rd 10 and Melbourne two weeks later and finished the season with 31.18, a huge increase from the 13.9 he kicked the year before.
He was also effective at bringing his teammates into the action finishing the season with 17 goal assists.
Standout Performance: Bailey Personifies the Goal-Kicking Mid
With the amount of X factor Zac Bailey posses, finding a singular stand-out game is difficult.
From his miraculous goal after the siren to leading the way in Tassie in Round 14, there doesn't seem to be a wrong answer.
However, it's tough to go past his impressive 26-disposal, three goal display in Adelaide in Round 16.
After a tightly fought first quarter, Bailey's pace was a welcome injection into the Lions midfield and seemingly played a pivotal in breaking down the Adelaide defence.
Disposals - 18.3 (Above-Average)
Kicks - 11.4 (Above-Average)
Marks - 3.2
Tackles - 2.8
Total Clearances - 2.8 (Above-Average)