Cheer Cheer the Red and the Black
By Michael Shillito and Jamie O’Dell
Anyone who was watching the recent Sydney Swans Intra-club match at Henson Park couldn’t help but notice the strong North Shore connection. There was plenty of Bombers talent on display.
The story of Callum Mills has been well documented. Growing up on the North Shore and coming through the club before being taken at pick 3 in last year’s AFL draft. But there were plenty of others.
Jake Veale has North Shore in his bloodlines. His father Rob was in North Shore’s team of the century, his name standing proudly on the board hanging in the clubhouse at Gore Hill. Jakes footballing talent was spotted from an early age joining the Swans Academy in his early teens but he has always played at Gore Hill as he was a Mosman Willoughby junior before his time at North Shore. Jakes ability to find the football in uncanny & considering his growth spurt over the last few years taking him to 6”4’ he is a hot prospect if his form continues from last year’s Swans NEAFL games. You’ll notice Jake around the club as his hair style often resembles something created by Pablo Picasso, an abstract art piece.
Matt Wilson joined North Shore in 2014 and quickly made an impression at the Bombers, his exceptional pace along with the ability to sidestep & find space also found him as an Australian U18 Touch Football representative as a 17yo. Nicknamed ‘Tonga’ due his tan, he’s a ladies man & budding karaoke singer.
Jack Mapleson grew up in Coffs Harbour and came down to Sydney looking to develop his football. Finding a home at North Shore after being a part of Joddas Elite Recruiting Program (JERP), his willingness to travel distances every week was a sign of his determination and commitment to bettering his football. He had a run in our seniors last year, performing with a maturity beyond his years to receive a Rising Star nomination. He lives with Steve Watters now so let us all pray for him.
Ryan Hebron is another local junior from North Shore’s talent breeding ground of St Ives, he’s highly rated by the Swans & at times during the Swans Intra-club match found himself marking big Buddy Franklin. ‘Hebbas’ is a solid defender with a strong overhead mark & has no problem backing up into a pack.
Harry Carr as a 17yo last year not only debuted in our seniors but was then promoted for a game in the Swans NEAFL team. His progression to a senior Swans Intra Club shows good signs for the man who has a passion for wearing bandanas like Rambo. Another successful JERP graduate, Harry is a strong marking forward with a huge leap that has often found him landing on the timekeepers tanle at Gore Hill.
Darcy Baron-Hay although injured for the Swans Intra Club, last year made several appearances for the Swans NEAFL team & once his rehabilitation is complete he will join the boys above training with the Swans Senior team as a development player. Big Darcy comes from a strong footballing family, and his father Myles is a former CEO at the Swans & growing up on the North Shore, he joined the Bombers after being identified by JERP at Riverview.
Another young man who was unfortunately injured during the Bombers U19s First Semi Final against St George last year was Anthony Treacy. Originating from Broome, WA he has been in the Swans Academy for number years & is touted for higher honours playing in several games in the Swans NEAFL side in 2015. By all accounts he should be back running in April/May 2016 & let’s hope it’s not too long after that that he’s back flying through packs like Cyril or banging freaks goals like Eddie Betts!
The Swans Academy has given these boys a chance to train and learn from elite AFL players from an early age. Last season saw them all, except Mapleson (who will debut in 2016), play several games for the Swans reserves. While North Shore also had strong representation in the NSW/ACT U18s RAMS Squad with 7 players in the top squad of 50. The most of any club in the State. In 2016 North Shore has approx. 20 players across a few age groups plying their craft at the Academy & we look forward such success stories being repeated in the coming years.
Carr and Mapleson will continue to take their place in the Swans Academy program in 2016 as they are still eligible for the U18 National Championships whereas Veale, Wilson, Hebron, Treacy & Baron-Hay will train full-time with the Swans seniors. An experience they say is unforgettable & challenging all the same!
Whatever the path taken by these young man in their careers North Shore wish them all the best, there is every chance we may never see them in the Red & Black again until they come back to Gore Hill to coach their kids. Who knows, but one thing is for certain they all have friendly faces watching & supporting them in their journey. Good Luck boys!