Submitted by Peter Blucher.
In a time of much doom and gloom at North Melbourne Bailey Scott has been a rare shining light.
Pushed to half back by coach Dave Noble in his fourth season, the now 21-year-old Queenslander has shown great composure under relentless pressure in a struggling side.
It was more of the same in Round 7 of the AFL last weekend, when he had 23 possessions, second-most of his career, in North’s 50-point loss to Carlton at Docklands on Saturday night.
Statistically Scott has averaged 17.6 possessions to rank fifth behind only team leaders Jy Simpkin and Luke McDonald, experienced recruit Hugh Greenwood and #1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis as the Kangaroos have struggled through a 1-6 start to the season and a percentage of just 59.9%.
And, averaging 88.7% game time, he’s played more minutes than all but key forward Nick Larkey and key back Josh Walker.
Moreover, he’s been resolute in defence and especially cool bringing the ball out of the back half.
Now 41 games into his career, more experienced than 10 teammates against the Blues last weekend, the former Gold Coast Suns Academy product has a 5-35 career win/loss record, with one draw.
He’s been on the receiving end of two 100-point losses, and 15 times he’s been a member of a side beaten by 50-plus. This year alone North’s losing margins have been 20-108-11-68-60-50 points.
He’s beaten West Coast twice last year and this year, Carlton last year, and Adelaide and GWS in 2020. And he’s had three coaches in four years – Brad Scott for his first four games in 2019, Rhyce Shaw for the next 13 in 2020, and now Noble through the last 24 in 2021-22.
And since he became player #1016 on the all-time North playing list on debut in Round 1 2019 he’s seen no less than 27 players join the list.
It’s not what Scott would have been hoping for when, after he captained the Suns Academy and the Allies in his 2018 draft year, and won All-Australian selection, he joined North.
Having to choose between a father/son spot at North and Geelong, where his father Robert played, or the Suns, where he qualified under zoning rules, he opted for a career at Arden Street where his father won a premiership in 1996.
But it’s been the sort of apprenticeship which will stand him in good stead if North find a way out of their current plight.
Wearing his father’s old #8 jumper, the 186cm running defender has found himself in the odd position this year of reverse parenting, with his parents and younger brother have moved in to share the house he has bought in Melbourne.
While Scott had to be content with another good showing in defeat in Round 7 of the 2022 AFL season, fellow Queenslanders Dayne Zorko and Aliir Aliir were standouts in wins.
Zorko, playing forward after six games in defence to start the season, had 22 possessions and kicked two goals in Brisbane’s gritty 24-point win over Sydney at the SCG to earn seven votes in the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year Award. Only best afield Lachie Neale polled more, while Zorko shared second billing with Sydney’s six-goal forward Lance Franklin.
And Aliir, in his second game back from injury, had 15 possessions in Port’s last-gasp win over St.Kilda in Cairns. The 2021 All-Australian defender picked up three coaches votes in a timely reminder of just how important he is to Port’s 2022 campaign.
Peter Blucher is a Consultant with Vivid Sport.