Fremantle draftees, from left, Cameron Sutcliffe, Hayden Crozier, Lachie Neale, Tom Sheridan and Alex Forster. Picture: Bill Hatto
Fremantle's top pick at last week's national draft, Tom Sheridan, has told how the car accident that ended his father's hopes of playing VFL for Essendon was a major motivator to help him get to the AFL.

Sheridan, who the Dockers picked up 16th overall in last Thursday's draft, said his father's advice had kept him on track as he made his way from Riddell Creek juniors, north-west of Melbourne, to the Calder Cannons and Fremantle.

Bryan Sheridan was still a teenager making his way in the Essendon reserves when, on Brownlow Medal night in 1977, he was a passenger in a car that slammed into a light pole.

"He broke both his legs," Sheridan said. "The surgeon said any more knocks and you will be crippled by the time you are 40 or 50."

Bryan Sheridan went on to play successfully at suburban level but was unable to complete his VFL dream.

"It just knocked him back with his footy and he wasn't able to compete at the elite level," Tom Sheridan said. "He had had a few too many drinks that night and he wasn't driving but his mate was. It has guided me in the right direction to get me where I am now."

Sheridan, Hayden Crozier (pick 20), Alex Forster (29), Lachie Neale (58) and Cameron Sutcliffe (71) were introduced to the media during their first full day at the club yesterday.

Crozier took one of the marks of the year in an under-18 championship match at Patersons Stadium mid-season.

Forster, Neale and Sutcliffe were raised in regional South Australia. Neale and Forster played in the same under-14s team at Kybybolite.

Forster said he and his best mate of more than 10 years Neale could scarcely believe it when they were drafted to the same club.

"We were, like, did that just happen? We were both close to tears we were that happy," he said.

Kybybolite had a great track record for producing talent despite being a tiny town of about 100 people.

"Jack Trengove is also a Kybee boy, at Melbourne now, and there are a few blokes playing SANFL footy that played there in the same team as me and Lach," Forster said.

"We actually won four premierships in a row. It was a good group of players and we really enjoyed our time there."

Meanwhile, Fremantle's assistant coach Simon Lloyd defended the club's decision to not take any WA talent in this draft.

"A couple of years ago our first three picks were Morabito, Fyfe and Houghton, and Mzungu last year," he said. "We have recruited a lot of West Australians in the past but we don't look at postcodes when we recruit players. They (recruiters) have their draft order and they stick to that list to get the best player into the club."

He said the club's list management group had identified running players as the most pressing need for the team at the moment, ahead of key-position players.

"Pav (Matthew Pavlich) will probably go forward a lot more this year," Lloyd said.

The West Australian

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