Rising Star Panther on the prowl

By Terry Wilson

TOM Jeffrey is like every other young footballer around the nation – he has a dream of playing in the AFL.

That is the ultimate but Jeffrey, the 17-year-old Morningside rookie, has contingency plans should he not get that far.

And those plans include perhaps becoming a legend at the Morningside Panthers where his father Nick made a name for himself as a key defender.

After playing just his third QAFL seniors game for the Panthers last weekend against Labrador, Jeffrey is the Round 18 Rising Star Award nominee.

He made his seniors debut in Round 14 against Wilston Grange and is clearly a rapidly developing youngster who plays primarily on a half-forward flank at this stage of his career.

His coach at Morningside, Steve Wildschut, says Jeffrey just keeps on improving.

“Tom has gone from kicking five goals for the colts in the grand final, then on to the Lions Academy,” Wildschut told aflq.com.au.

“He has been good there and he continued on with it with our reserves.

“At every level he gets to he settles in well and really takes a hold of it.”

Jeffrey played at state level through from Under 12s to Under 17s and also the Lions academy, although he has still not played a NEAFL game, although that is on the bucket list.

The youngster, who attends Mansfield State High, was always destined to land at Jack Esplen Oval where his dad Nick played with distinction.

Footy life began for Jeffrey at the Coorparoo juniors, a club he joined because a few of his mates from kindergarten and primary school were there.

Then it was across town to Mt Gravatt where Jeffrey played for a few years under his father as coach.

“It was pretty much a matter of time before I went to Morningside because the Panthers were always pretty much in my blood,” Jeffrey said.

“Dad played 99 games for Morningside and won a couple of premierships, so he wasn’t too bad at all.

“But he didn’t know that (about the 99 games) until after he retired.”

Which raises the matter of Jeffrey’s contingency plans, as mentioned earlier in this story.

“I want to continue to develop my game and learn different things and go as far as possible,” he said.

“The AFL is the dream, but if not then the NEAFL – or breaking Kent Abey’s record at Morningside.”

Abey is Morningside’s games-played record holder and recently broke the 300 barrier for the club.

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