By Peter Blucher
Gold Coast Suns youngster Alex Davies will never forget his first AFL goal. Or the game in which it came.
In just his second AFL appearance on Sunday, eight days after his 20th birthday, Davies kicked the clincher four minutes from time in one of the Suns’ great wins.
He gathered a loose ball in the Suns forward pocket, stepped around ex-Eagles skipper Shannon Hurn and on his left foot guaranteed what became a 27-point win after they’d been a point down at three-quarter time.
Minutes later, as the Suns gathered in the dressing room for the traditional and very boisterous rendition of the club song, he joined off-season recruits Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult doused in sports drink in the centre of a team circle.
Davies was a solid contributor throughout, with 12 possessions, five tackles and six score involvements as the Suns kicked seven of the last eight goals in front of a crowd of 20,932.
It was a beautiful moment and confirmation for the strong-bodied midfielder that AFL football is what he always hoped it would be after his debut against Sydney in Round 23 last year produced an 87-point loss in an empty Marvel Stadium.
It was the culmination, too, of an eight-year journey with the Suns and vindication of his decision to choose football over basketball after excelling in both sports as a junior.
It confirmed why, after making his debut in jumper #30 last year, he was handed the #5 jumper vacated over summer by fellow Queenslander and Suns games record-holder Jarrod Harbrow.
And it was a round-about retort to those who suggest the Suns would not be the same Hugh Greenwood, who was snatched from the club by North Melbourne after he had been delisted by agreement on a promise that he would be re-drafted.
In all probability, if 30-year-old Greenwood was still at the Suns Davies, much the same sort of player but 10 years younger, would not have been playing.
And two games into his career Davies would not have experienced a thrill that many Suns players waited much longer for. Or fell short of entirely. A win in Perth.
After all, it was the Gold Coast’s second only win in 15 visits to the WA capital, their first in Perth since 2006 and their first over the Eagles in Perth.
Astonishingly, only two members of the Suns side that won in Perth in 2016 were part of the side that won there on Sunday – Sean Lemmens and unused medical substitute Alex Sexton.
Of the other 20, Sam Day and Rory Thompson are injured, Gary Ablett, Clay Cameron, Ryan Davis, Harbrow, Kade Kolodjashnij, Jesse Lonergan, Nick Malceski, Brandon Matera, Tom Nicholls and Michael Rischitelli have either retired or been delisted, and Callum AhChee, Aaron Hall, Tom Lynch, Jack Martin, Steven May, Trent McKenzie, Dion Prestia and Adam Saad are at other clubs.
So, moving forward, Davies will have plenty of matches with whom to share memories of his first Perth win. And regardless of what follows this will also be a vivid memory for a young man raised in Cairns by his Japanese mother and Tasmanian-born father who grew up playing football with the Manunda Hawks and basketball with the Cairns Marlins.
Identified early on as an outstanding AFL prospect, he joined the Suns Academy at age 12 but always had divided sporting loyalties. In 2017 he captained the Queensland U16 basketball team to a national junior championship, and in 2018 won All-Australian U16 honors.
Football or basketball? It could have gone either way. But he chose football, relocating from Cairns High School to finish his schooling at All Saints Anglican College on the Gold Coast.
In 2019 he represented the Allies as a bottom-ager at the U18 Australian championships and made his senior QAFL debut for Broadbeach, receiving his jumper from his Japanese grandfather.
Heading into his 2020 draft year he was compared often to Collingwood’s great and basketball convert Scott Pendlebury and touted as a top 10 pick in an open draft. But he was always going to be a Sun, and despite an injury-plagued and Covid-affected 2020 season was gleefully snapped up as a priority listing.
Also enjoying his first win in Perth as a visiting player was ex-Fremantle draftee Lachie Weller. He’d enjoyed a 9-16 win/loss record at the old Subiaco Oval during his Dockers days but had been 0-4 at Perth Stadium since returning ‘home’ to join Gold Coast in 2018.
It was a memorable Suns debut, too, for fellow Queensland football product Mabior Chol, who joined the Suns from Richmond over summer as a free agent and was handed the #1 Gold Coast jumper worn previously by only three players Marc Lock, Jaeger O’Meara and Pearce Hanley.
In other Queensland news ahead of Round 2 of the 2022 AFL season:-
- Port Adelaide’s All-Australian defender Aliir Aliir will miss a minimum four weeks and possibly as many as eight after surgery for a syndesmosis injury suffered in his side’s Gabba loss to Brisbane last Saturday night.
- Charlie Dixon, Port’s other Queenslander, is scheduled to resume from ankle problems in the SANFL this weekend with a view to returning to the AFL for the Round 3 showdown against the Crows.
- Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko is some chance of playing this week against Essendon at Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon after he was subbed out of the game against Port with ankle concerns.
Peter Blucher is a Consultant with Vivid Sport.