Darcy Wilmot etched his name on two different pages of the ‘extra obscure’ section of the AFL history book with his fairytale debut in Thursday night’s epic elimination final with at the Gabba – but only just.

Not that Wilmot’s selection for the elimination final against Richmond was just – it was strong, bold choice by coach Chris Fagan – but the Lions’ first draft pick in last year was only eligible for the draft by a matter of hours.


Wilmot was born at 9am on 31 December 2003. Fifteen hours and one minute later, when it would have been 1 January 2004 and he’d still be playing in the NAB League dreaming of playing AFL football.

It’s still a dream, only enhanced by the unforgettable drama of the Lions’ last-gasp win over the Tigers in front of a sell-out Gabba crowd of 35,013.

But it’s reality too for a young man who wore #44 for the Lions in tribute to his late father Grant, who played five games at Collingwood in 1980 in #44.

Grant Wilmot was a suburban football legend originally from Montmorency in the Diamond Valley League in Melbourne’s north. Chosen in the Montmorency Team of the Century, he was described as “an uncompromising defender” and “a hard man” in a career in which he also played at Preston, Heidleberg and Eltham, and coached at Croyden, Heidleberg and Eltham.

His five games at Collingwood were in Rounds 4-5-6-7-8 of the grand final year of 1980, when he played with a host of AFL superstars under coaching legend Tom Hafey.

Peter Daicos, whose sons Nick and Josh are now playing at Collingwood, played his 10th game in Wilmot’s debut, while Peter Moore, two-time Brownlow Medallist and father of current Collingwood vice-captain Darcy Moore, played his 117th game and Billy Picken, father of ex-Lion Marcus, played his 126th game.

In his third game against St.Kilda at Victoria Park Wilmot had 20 possessions and kicked four goals to earn three Brownlow Medal votes in a 60-point win in which Rene Kink kicked seven goals.

And in his fifth and final game against Fitzroy at Junction Oval, which finished in a draw, 23-year-old Wilmot, also an occasional professional boxer, played alongside former Lions CEO Andrew Ireland and Magpies legend Ronnie Wearmouth, who also later coached in Queensland.

It’s all part of an extraordinary story that unfolded when Wilmot became player #13,026 on the all-time AFL playing list, and just the 23rd player in history born on New Year’s Eve and the 34th to debut in a final. And the 21st to have a win.

Wilmot was only the third AFL player to debut in a final since Brisbane joined the AFL in 1987, following Richmond’s 2018 grand final debutant Marlion Pickett and Western Bulldogs’ 2010 semi-final first-gamer Andrew Hopper.

Former Brisbane and North Melbourne player Paul Spargo, whose son Charlie is now playing at Melbourne, was the third-last finals debutant in 1985.

Fitzroy’s Graham Osborne debuted in the 1984 finals to begin a 37-game career with the club, while in 1924 Fitzroy 104-gamer Charles Chapman played his only two finals in a season in which the top four sides played a round-robin finals series to decide the premiers.

Other famous finals debutants include Collingwood, South Melbourne and Fitzroy 300-gamer Len Thompson, the youngest at 18 years 22 days, Hawthorn great Dermott Brereton, who was one day older, Melbourne great Don Cordner and 1966 St.Kilda premiership player Travis Payze.

Wilmot was introduced to AFL fans in unforgettable fashion on draft day last year when the telecast crossed to him and about 20 good mates in the family lounge room.


Tipped to go between 15-25 in the draft, the Northern Knights and Vic Metro running defender was chosen by Brisbane at #16 ahead of Kai Lohmann at #20 and Jimmy Tunstill at #41.

AFL Talent Manager Kevin Sheehan described him as “a really special talent” especially dangerous for his run and carry. “He’ll take the game on with his dash out of the backline but he can lock down on an opponent as well,” said.

Overjoyed just to get a chance in the AFL, Wilmot said he was “bloody excited” and promised to “bring 100 percent” in a short emotion-charged interview in a setting which left many viewers presuming he and his mates were enjoying a few off-season beers after he signed off by saying he would celebrate “with a couple more Pepsi Max”.

But since moving to Brisbane it is an assumption that has been proven wrong – he is a non-drinker.

And to mark the occasion Coca-Cola, sponsors of the Lions, printed a special label for the Coke bottle which says ‘Debutant’.

Sharing a house at Camp Hill owned by teammate Dan McStay with teammates Tunstill, Kalin Lane and Deividas Uosis, Wilmot is said to be “a different unit” and has won a reputation for his loud (some might say terrible) music.

Wilmot, delighted that his mother Melinda Murphy and sisters Tenisha and Holly were in Brisbane for his debut, is another example of a young man who has basically had to learn an entirely new way of life in the team-first environment at the Gabba after spending 2020-21 in virtual lockdown.

He won the admiration of club insiders for the way he’s gone about things, and the reaction from teammates when his selection was announced was an indication of his popularity. Even more so when he kicked a team-lifting goal late in the second quarter on Thursday night.


Wilmot finished with 11 possessions and a goal, and quickly became something of a cult hero among Lions fans who loved to his dash and dare, and his exuberant on-field personality.

The 18-year-old was just the second Brisbane draftee from the Northern Knights behind Billy Longer, pick #5 in 2011, although oddly enough three members of the Fitzroy ‘Chosen Eight’ who headed north via the merger were Knights products – Chris Johnson, John Barker and Shane Clayton.

He is the fifth Brisbane player to wear #44 behind Darren Carlson (25 games), Nigel Palfreyman (15), Nigel Lappin (279), Aaron Cornelius (25) and Archie Smith (16).