The South West’s reputation as a breeding ground for football talent was further enhanced when another player from the region was drafted into AFL ranks last week.
Augusta-Margaret River defender Harrison Marsh became the latest South West footballer to be flung into the national spotlight when he was picked up by reigning AFL premiers Sydney in last Thursday’s National Draft.
The 18-year-old was selected with pick 44 and left for the Harbour City earlier this week.
Prominent players from the region on AFL lists include fellow Swan Lewis Jetta from Bunbury, Hawthorn’s Ben Stratton from Yallingup and West Coast Eagle Ashton Hams from Busselton.
Marsh, who watched the draft on TV at home surrounded by family and friends, said the suspense had made for a “long day”.
But he couldn’t have asked for a better result.
“You can’t really prepare too much for it just because it’s so uncertain,” Marsh said.
“You’re not sure whether you’re going to be living in Western Australia or what you’re going to be doing — you need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
“Sydney is an awesome place. I’m just looking forward to getting over there.”
Marsh grew up in Margaret River but moved to Perth this year to play for WAFL club East Fremantle and “give footy a good crack”.
He averaged over 15 possessions a game in his 14 Colts appearances with the Sharks in 2012 and also impressed in three games for WA at the AFL Under-18s Championships earlier this year.
Marsh, who played in AMR’s 2011 SWFL premiership team, displayed his explosive pace at the AFL Draft Combine when he was second in the repeat sprint test.
He has fond memories of growing up and playing in the SWFL.
“I loved the footy down here,” Marsh said.
“It’s a good bunch of blokes and everyone is just out there to have a good time.”
Marsh said the result was yet to sink in and said he had been lost for words when Sydney coach John Longmire called him to congratulate him on his selection.
His mother, Melanie, said the year had been a rollercoaster ride.
The family had pay TV installed especially to watch the draft and Mrs Marsh said watching her first draft had been a tense experience.
“Up to when his name got called out, you could have heard a pin drop at home,” she said. “We just screamed.
We finally heard his name and we were honestly hysterical.
“To have the thrill of being selected was just amazing.”
Mrs Marsh said her son had achieved everything he put his mind to.
“As time was going on I was just saying a little prayer and hoping he would get picked up,” she said.
“We’re just so thrilled he is going to Sydney.”