By Peter Blucher
Bailey Scott pondered long and hard about where he wanted to play his AFL football.
A Gold Coast Suns Academy product and prospective zone selection who was also eligible to join North Melbourne and Geelong as a father-son selection, Scott met with each club and agonised over his choice.
It was a rare luxury for an aspiring AFL hopeful.
And although there were no guarantees the fact that all three clubs pushed so hard to get him told the football world he wasn’t going to miss out.
Eventually, the fact that his father Robert Scott, a 245-game player with Geelong and North Melbourne, shared a premiership triumph with North in 1996 was the clincher. He chose to wear blue and white.
The Broadbeach junior, Allies U18 Captain and 2018 All-Australian U18 selection nominated North Melbourne as his preferred club.
It didn’t mean the midfielder/forward was a lock for North. He was still subject to the AFL bidding system whereby other clubs could attempt to steal him in the NAB AFL National Draft.
Geelong did just that. With selection #49 the Cats nominated the 186cm Queenslander but North, with the right to match the bid, did so. So Scott became a Kangaroo.
It was the start of what has been a frenzied introduction to AFL football.
And while he took his time in the early stages, Scott has performed so well since getting to Arden Street that he has been fast-tracked into the AFL side for his debut against Fremantle in Perth on Sunday.
He has leap-frogged a lot of players chosen ahead of him in the Draft, and will enjoy the special treat of playing his first game in Round 1 in his first season in the AFL.
It is an honour which in recent years fell to two other Queenslanders – Jack Bowes at the Suns in 2017 and Peter Yagmoor at Collingwood in 2012.
Scott was labelled ‘the steal of the draft’ by Brownlow Medallist and FoxFooty commentator Gerard Healy after two outings for North in the JLT Series.
“This one I think really has the capacity to embarrass the recruiting fraternity,” Healy said on Fox Footy’s On The Couch.
“I know he’s a father-son, but plenty of people could have nominated for him early.
“Bailey Scott has come in and absolutely dominated for North Melbourne in the two JLTs.
“He won it on the inside, he won it on the outside, he tackled ferociously, he kicked goals.
“Already he looks like the steal of the draft to me. Good luck to the Kangaroos, you’ve got yourself a winner.”
There was no doubting the Scott pedigree.
His father, who hailed from Torquay on the Victorian coast, debuted with Geelong as a 17-year-old in 1986.
He played in grand final losses with the Cats in 1989 and 1992 before he traded to North at the end of the 1994 season.
He played in North’s 43-point win over Sydney in the 1996 grand final before another grand final loss in 1998 and a heart-breaking selection miss in 1999, when the Roos beat Carlton in the big dance.
He played one last game for North in Round 1 2000 before heading to Queensland, where he enjoyed a premiership with Mt.Gravatt in 2002.
At 186cm Bailey Scott is taller than his 173cm father, but plays in a strikingly similar fashion. He has the same blistering speed and a work-rate that is second to none.
North coach Brad believes his namesake is well equipped to have an immediate impact
“(Bailey) has forced his way in through his preparation in the pre-season and his performance through the JLT series, so he’s truly worthy of his spot,” the coach said.
“Purely in terms of playing against AFL players, that was a slight query, but he played a fair bit of footy in the NEAFL against AFL-listed players and grown men, so he performed really well at that level as well.
“There was still a question mark with the step up in intensity, but I’m not concerned about his size – I’m more concerned about his strength, and his strength has been really good.
“He’s fought to hold his feet in the contest (and) he’s won his fair share of one-on-ones, so his weight on the scales is irrelevant. It’s his relative strength that’s important.”
Set to wear jumper #30 – his father’s #8 jumper is worn by Nathan Hrovat – 18-year-old Scott will be the 179th Queenslander to play in the AFL.
He is the Queensland fairytale story of Round 1 of the 2019 AFL season, but there is another one that ranks a very close second.
Corey Wagner, dumped by North at the end of 2017 after eight AFL games with club, has done remarkably well to win a Round 1 spot in the fancied Melbourne line-up.
Having starred with Casey in the VFL last year, winning the Casey B&F and a spot in the VFL Team of the Year, Wagner was overlooked in the 2018 drafts but was thrown a late career lifeline by the Demons via the new pre-season supplemental selection.
Chosen ahead of older brother Josh and set to wearing jumper #40 for Melbourne, Wagner will debut for his second club against Port Adelaide at the MCG on his 22nd birthday tomorrow (Saturday).
The third Queensland feel good story of Round 1 is Tom Hickey. The former Gold Coast and St.Kilda ruckman will debut for West Coast in front of family and friends against Brisbane at the Gabba tomorrow night.
Hickey will become the sixth Queenslander to play for more than two AFL clubs.
Ben Hudson, who spread his career over Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, Brisbane and Collingwood, is Queensland’s only four-club player, while Hickey joins Richard Murrie (Footscray, Geelong, Richmond), Trevor Spencer (Essendon, Melbourne, Geelong), Trent Knobel (Brisbane, St.Kilda, Richmond and Mal Michael (Collingwood, Brisbane, Essendon) as three-club players.
Other Queenslanders set to play in Round 1 will be Brisbane’s Dayne Zorko, Harris Andrews, Eric Hipwood and Charlie Cameron, Gold Coast’s Jarrod Harbrow, Lachie Weller, Alex Sexton, Bowes and Jessie Joyce, and Collingwood’s Dayne Beams and Josh Thomas.
Lachy Keeffe and Sam Reid have been named in an extended squad for GWS.