I guess I could start the story of my debut all the way back to when I was 11. It was at this age I received the best birthday present ever. A quick trip over to Melbourne for a jammed packed weekend filled to the brim with footy, footy and a bit more footy.
It was then that I first stepped foot into the MCG. One of the most famous stadiums in the world, I was in awe as I sat on the bench and dreamt of one day running out for my first game of AFL to a full “G” with fans screaming and cheering.
Fast forward seven years and there I was again sitting on the MCG bench. This time, there was less people in the stadium then when I toured it all those years ago.
I sat there as an eerie silence surrounded the stadium and watched the centre bounce of the start of the biggest game in my life and it felt like nothing more than a pre-season scratch match.
Although it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, it will forever be my first game of AFL and something I will never forget as long as I live.
The lead up to the Sunday afternoon game was somewhat less conventional as well. I was named emergency in the match selection meeting throughout the week but was told very early on Birchall was not a guarantee to get up for the game and if he can’t get up, I’d be in.
I went home still unsure if I was playing or not which was quite a restless night.
It was during the line meeting on Friday morning when Fages broke the news to me that they most likely weren’t going to risk Birchall and I’d be making my debut. I was still to be listed as an emergency.
I had just received the best news of my life and I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone besides my parents. The positive to that was I didn’t have to worry about any external pressure. I was able to prepare to play as if it was any other game of footy.
The jumper presentation before the game was a very special moment for me. Jed Adcock presented me with my jumper which was a huge honour to receive my jumper from such a champion of the Club.
Thankfully, given we knew I was playing earlier then everyone else, the Club was able to fly my parents over.
They were allowed access to the rooms before the game but had to stand and observe from afar given the COVID-19 protocols in place. This also meant I wasn’t allowed to give Mum or Dad a hug and kiss, which broke my heart a little given it was such a special moment for not only myself but them as well.
Obviously, the news broke that the season would be postponed for an extended period of time while we were playing but we were oblivious until after the game. Already devastated we weren’t able to win, hearing that news was hard to process and was a very weird feeling in the rooms as everyone was very flat.