By Ant Wingard @AntWingard
Brisbane Lions Academy member and draft fancy Connor McFadyen wouldn’t be alone as a prodigious talent in two sports throughout his teenage years.
Along with his nous as a tall goal-kicking midfielder, McFadyen rose to prominence as a gunning cricketer and it was there where a professional sporting career loomed most prominent.
A consistent all-rounder on the cricket oval where he bowled at first drop and batted in the high middle order, McFadyen enjoyed success with the cherry in part due to the guiding ways of his father Brian, who is the current High-Performance Network Lead at Cricket Australia.
Among his accolades, Connor shone on the cricket pitch as a junior and was selected in the Australian Under 16 side.
He featured prominently for Queensland at Under 15, Under 17 and Under 19 level where he produced figures of 3/30 from five overs as a 15-year-old and 3/50 from nine overs against the Cricket Australia XI as a 17-year-old.
But like most dual-sport athletes, McFadyen was forced to make the decision and eventually, he chose the Sherrin over the Kookaburra.
“It was coming to the start of the cricket season which is the end of the footy season. It was the preseason of my 18th year of football and I wanted to give footy a real crack at the time,” McFadyen said of his decision.
“Dad was super supportive of whatever decision I chose. It wasn’t as if he put any pressure on me to choose cricket.”
“He was really good with it and supported me whichever way I wanted to go.”
Despite his promising career as a junior cricketer, McFadyen experienced similar success with the footy.
That career began with the Kedron Lions in Brisbane’s north and by age 11 he was scouted by the Brisbane Lions Academy.
McFadyen progressed through the ranks and continued to develop his football with the academy.
By this point, he had found a new home with the Wilston Grange Gorillas where he made his QAFL debut at just 16.
While he didn’t grow up a Lions fan, McFadyen’s close association with the club, which this year resulted in his NEAFL debut, has meant his allegiances have shifted and the thought of donning Brisbane colours next season would be a dream come true.
“Just watching them grow over the past few years, it’s exciting to see how far the club has gone. I’d love to be a part of it next year,” McFadyen said.
“Obviously, it’s my lifelong dream to get drafted but obviously nothing is set in stone yet.”
McFadyen managed to play five games for Brisbane throughout the 2018 NEAFL season where he kicked six goals and averaged 9.4 disposals playing mainly as a third tall forward while also floating through the midfield.
After his stellar 2018 season, he was one of a select few Queenslanders invited to the NAB AFL Draft Combine last week in Melbourne but couldn’t test after an old injury flared up.
“I’ve been injured a bit over the past three years so I’m kind of used to it now, but I’d definitely rather be out there testing and showing my capabilities out there.”
“It’s a learning experience but it’s something that happens to all footy players.”
“It’s an old one that has flared up towards the end of the year. I played through most of the season with it, but it flared up again and I’ve been in a moon boot for about six weeks.”
The 190cm midfield/forward is expected to be drafted somewhere in the second round according to most reports and according to McFadyen, November 23’s draft couldn’t come quicker.
“I’m nervous and excited. I wish it’d come around sooner.”