Bell set for first QClash. By Peter Blucher
Queenslander Tom Bell played in front of some monster crowds during his five years and 51 games at Carlton.
Like the 94,690 that crammed into the MCG for his finals debut against Richmond in 2013, when the Blues beat Richmond by 20 points.
And the 84,247 that saw the Blues lose to Collingwood in round 2 the same year, and the 83,493 that saw them lose by 27 points to Richmond in Round 1 last year, both at the MCG.
Twelve times Bell played to crowds of 50,000-plus against Collingwood, Richmond and Essendon at headquarters, and once in 2014 he played to 52,505 against Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, when the Blues lost by 103 points.
But never has the Brisbane Lions’ prize off-season recruit played in what the AFL labels a local derby. Or a QClash.
The 24-year-old midfielder will sample AFL rivalry Queensland style for the first time when the Lions host the Gold Coast at the Gabba tomorrow afternoon.
While the crowd will be nothing like a near sell-out at the MCG it will be a special match for the powerhouse Morningside junior, who grew up not far down the road from the Gabba and desperate to play for the Lions.
Bell will join fellow Lions newcomers Ryan Bastinac, Josh Walker and Josh Schache in making their QClash debut.
Four , too, are set to play their first QClash –Matt Rosa, who played in 14 WA derbies during 168 games at West Coast, Ryan Davis, who played in one WA derby during 14 games at West Coast, plus Keegan Brooksby and Callum AhChee.
The Lions will field five Queenslanders in the QClash – Bell, Daniel Merrett, Claye Beams, Harris Andrews and Dayne Zorko – after Ben Keays and Liam Dawson were named as emergencies.
Keays is pressing for his first chance at AFL level after consecutive 30-possession games in the NEAFL, while Dawson was the travelling emergency last week to Geelong.
The SUNS will field three Queenslanders in QClash11 – Jarrod Harbrow, Clay Cameron and Alex Sexton – after Rory Thompson was ruled out through injury.
Selection last night for Round 4 for the Toyota AFL premiership was singularly uneventful for the Queensland contingent of the competition. No change.
Although Fremantle’s Lachie Weller and Melbourne’s Josh Wagner were named last night on extended interchange benches that will be trimmed tonight both are expected to play.
This will mean the 21 Queenslanders who played in Round 3 will back up in Round 4.
Essendon 119-game veteran Courtenay Dempsey, from Cairns, will return to the game this weekend in the VFL after serving a four-game suspension incurred in Round 22 last year for a driving tackle on Richmond’s Brett Deledio.
Adelaide excitement machine Charlie Cameron, not technically classified as a Queenslander despite his stint at Marist College Ashgrove, is one step away from a return to senior football after pre-season knee surgery. He was named among the emergencies for Saturday’s clash with the Sydney Swans.
TOM BELL at a glance
School: Iona Colege
Junior clubs: Morningside
Recruited: 2011 Rookie Draft
AFL clubs: Carlton, Brisbane
Debut: Rd 17 2012
Recruited from: Morningside
Born and raised in Brisbane, Bell played soccer as a youth before being introduced to Australian rules football at age 12. He attended Iona College in Brisbane throughout his schooling and graduated with future AFL players Tom Hickey and Josh Thomas in 2008. He joined the NEAFL‘s Morningside Australian Football Clubin 2010, and was a regular senior player by 2011; in that season, he played twenty games for the club, and made his name as a wing/halfback player.