Reid’s long wait finally over. By Peter Blucher. .
Sunshine Coaster Sam Reid will play his 25th AFL game for the GWS Giants on Sunday – 1072 days after he played his 24th game.
In a comeback story to better Jack Trengove’s remarkable comeback for Melbourne last weekend after 767 days on the sideline, Reid was selected last night for arguably the biggest game in the Giants’ short history against the Sydney Swans at Spotless Stadium on Sunday.
It was 6 July 2013 that Reid last played at AFL level for the Giants against the Western Bulldogs in Canberra.
So long ago was it that Kevin Sheedy was still coach of the second-year Giants and Brendan McCartney was in charge of a Dogs outfit that won by four points.
Reid played in a Giants side which included seven players no longer at the club – Taylor Adams (Collingwood), Jonathan Giles (West Coast), Curtly Hampton (Adelaide), Jacob Townsend (Richmond) and Adam Treloar (Collingwood) are playing elsewhere, and Stephen Gilham and Setanta OhAilpin have retired.
In the opposition side that day was Ryan Griffen (now at the Giants), Adam Cooney (now at Essendon), Liam Jones (now at Carlton) and Michael Talia (now at Sydney), plus Daniel Giansiracusa and Brett Goodes (retired), and Ayce Cordy and Jason Tutt (delisted).
He had nine possessions and six tackles before going down with an ankle injury that would ultimately end his season. And, it seemed, his career.
In the post-mortem to the Giants’ second season Reid was told by incoming coach Leon Cameron that he might struggle for opportunities in the young expansion outfit.
As Reid detailed to the media on Thursday after learning of his fairytale recall: “He (Cameron) said you (Reid) may struggle to get opportunities. Your body has let you down in the past (and) it’s a young list we’ve got. (But) because I had another year on my contract I still thought I could play. I’m a stubborn prick, I wanted to shove it in his face.”
So, the chronic diabetic, who had endured four shoulder reconstructions in a career spread over six years, decided not to give up on football at the elite level. He just changed focus.
He retired from AFL football as a player to accept a development role with the Giants and invest in his future.
Or, as he put it: “I had to suck it up, instead of being stubborn.”
Reid’s new job involved coaching the midfield in the Giants reserves and playing, which required him to take part in training as if he was a listed player.
So, as he explained, he played with the mindset of a coach. He was able to read the game better and knew what he needed to do on the field. The knowledge that he would not have any of his play highlighted on the big screen in the weekly debrief gave him more freedom.
“I’ve got no doubt at all that’s helped,” Reid said yesterday. “The last 2½ years and even this year in the twos, I’ve never enjoyed my football so much.
It showed. And so good was his form last year as captain of the NEAFL side that Cameron asked him to consider a full-scale comeback. Having originally set his sights on the Reserves coaching job, he quickly agreed to Cameron’s request and the club drafted him as a 2016 rookie.
He was an emergency in Rounds 6-8-9-11 but missed the final cut.
This time there was no chance he was going to be disappointed at the final hurdle. He was named in the starting 18 to confirm he will definitely play in Sunday’s crunch ‘Battle of the Bridge’ against the Swans.
It will be almost like making his debut all over again for the now 26-year-old Reid, who played 10 games in four years at the Western Bulldogs from 2008-11 before joining the Giants with close mate Callan Ward for the club’s entry to the AFL in 2012.
How will he feel? “In terms of nerves hopefully not too many,” Reid said. “Personally I just want to get in and stay in and … add another chapter to the book.”
In a sign of how much has changed at the Giants since last he played, five key members of the senior squad this week were playing elsewhere when last he played – Joel Patful (Brisbane), Heath Shaw (Collingwood), Steve Johnson (Geelong), Shane Mumford (Sydney) and Griffin (Bulldogs). And four more – Rory Lobb, Jack Steele, Tyrone Downie and Jacob Hopper – had not played at all.
Reid is officially listed as the 31st Giants player. Hopper, who debuted in Round 8, was their 72nd player.
And, in another mind-boggling statistic that underlines his extraordinary persistence, when Reid runs out on Sunday it will be 2843 days since his AFL debut for the Dogs against Adelaide at Football Park on 30 August 2008.
Reid was the big news to come out of a busy night for Queenslanders at AFL selection. In other news:-
- Rory Thompson was included in the Gold Coast Suns side for what will be his first game since Round 3. He missed seven weeks with an ankle injury and proved his fitness last weekend in the NEAFL. Jesse Joyce, who debuted for the Suns last week, was among seven players bracketed for four spots on the interchange bench for their Sunday clash with Richmond at the MCG.
- Harris Andrews was rushed straight back into the Brisbane Lions side after four weeks on the sideline. He’ll play against Fremantle in the Saturday twilight game at the Gabba. Claye Beams was named as an emergency for the third week in a row.
- Aliir Aliir is in line for his second AFL game for Sydney against GWS after he was included in the extended bench squad. And given the height of the Giants forward line he’s not without a chance of playing.
- Nick Riewoldt will miss St.Kilda’s Sunday clash with Carlton at Etihad Stadium due to injury. It will be the first time the champion Gold Coaster will miss since Round 18 last year.
- Adam Oxley was omitted from the Collingwood side for Monday’s MCG clash with Melbourne after playing the last 10 games.
- Corey Wagner (North Melbourne), Brendan Whitecross (Hawthorn) and Sam Michael (Essendon) were named as senior emergencies.