Sam Docherty will make his long-awaited senior AFL debut this Sunday evening against North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
It’s been more than 12 months in the making for Docherty, who was selected by the Club in the opening round of the 2011 AFL National Draft (Pick No.12 overall).
Upon arriving in Brisbane, he underwent hip surgery which delayed the start of his first ever pre-season campaign. It meant that he probably didn’t reach peak form and fitness until late in the season.
Although he never quite cracked it for a senior berth in 2012, Docherty went on to play a key role in the Reserves’ breakthrough NEAFL Premiership win.
Determined to make up for lost time, the Phillip Island product returned for his second pre-season in terrific condition, and proved one of the Lions’ standouts on the training track over summer.
He told The Courier Mail earlier this year that while his debut season was frustrating at times, he believed it helped him prepare for what’s required at senior level.
“At times last year it was tough, but every first-year player has tough times,” Docherty said.
"I missed out on a lot of the pre-season so I had to keep fronting up for the twos (reserves) and keep playing well to hopefully get a game in the seniors. I went close but I didn't quite get there.
"I got told that I wasn't fit, so I hit the track hard and came back 20 times fitter.
The hard work seems to have paid off, with Docherty now set to become the 150th player since the merger to play in a senior match with the Lions.
He will represent the Club wearing the celebrated Number 1 guernsey, which has previously been worn two of Fitzroy’s all-time greatest players – Kevin Murray and Paul Roos.
But Docherty will be hoping to create his own history in the famous guernsey – starting this Sunday against the Kangaroos.
Docherty by the numbers
player to appear in VFL/AFL history
player to represent the Club (Fitzroy and Bears included)
player to represent the merged Brisbane Lions since 1997
player in the Club’s combined history to wear the #1 in a senior match
Players to have worn the #1 guernsey in a senior match for the Club