Part two of our Q&A with Tom Bell and Tom Hickey
This is part Two of our Q&A with Carlton’s Tom Bell and St Kilda’s Tom Hickey. Click here to read part one.
Tom (Hickey) how have you found settling into a new club, coming to St Kilda from the SUNS?
HICKEY: St Kilda are a really good group of blokes and quite similar to the Gold Coast in that we’ve got a lot of young blokes in our team. A lot of blokes from 19-22/23 and they’re all really good blokes, so they welcomed me.
It’s getting to drafting time again this year. Do you remember much about that process?
HICKEY: I went to the combine at the AIS and that was pretty daunting. Me and Joel Wilkinson were the only two Queenslanders that went that year and it was funny how competitive some of the blokes were.
How did you approach it?
HICKEY: I sort of took it as we’re there to test and sell ourselves and not try and do everything else. It’s very daunting to walk into a room and have all 17 clubs, then, there at the time and they just might walk past you and say yep, we’ll have a meeting with you , and then sit you down in front of nine of them and they grill you for about 15 minutes.
It was more mentally draining than physically, because you’re always trying to do the right thing and you’re always having meetings but I enjoyed it. I don’t mind trying to sell myself, so I had a crack.
Did you have any idea you’d be heading to the Coast?
HICKEY: I thought I was more of a chance to head to North Melbourne. It was all going to work through the trade week and then I was going to get picked up and traded. Then Gold Coast changed their mind and decided to keep me, so I got to stay in Queensland and go down the coast for a few years, which was pretty fun.
You guys played in that 2009 premiership together, do you still keep in touch with a lot of the guys from that side?
HICKEY: There’s about all of them but one in our group of best friends played in it and he was playing senior at that time. So, pretty much our whole group of friends are Morningside players.
Do you get back to the club much?
BELL: we always come down here, even if it is just to have a kick or a beer or just have a dinner or something we’re always down here.
Why is Morningside so special to you?
HICKEY: I think Morningside’s always been a club where it hasn’t relied on money, it’s just relied on blokes being friends and playing for each other:
BELL: Good culture.
HICKEY: Yeah, everyone’s always been best friends. If you walk in the door, you’re a Morningside boy and everyone treats you like that and everyone likes that. That’s why they all keep coming back.
BELL: I think that’s why it’s been such a successful club as well. It’s just local guys coming down and guys from Victoria hear that we are such a good club and we are such an inviting and friendly club and I think that’s why this year we had a few Victorians come up and play for Morningside which is pretty good to hear.
HICKEY: I reckon, never forget where you came from. Clubs like these are what give you the opportunity to play AFL football.
BELL: If you don’t thank them, you’re being a little bit ungrateful.
How have you seen Queensland footy change in the last couple of years?
BELL: It was good introducing all the NT teams and all that because it’s sort of a wider competition base and obviously the boys get to experience travel and everything like that.
HICKEY: You also look at Dayne Zorko, Stephen Wrigley, Matt Jones; they were all picked up from the NEAFL. Also, Belly, Sam Michael, a lot of players who have missed out on their draft year.
Even playing both NEAFL with the SUNS and playing in the VFL, I think it’s a bit of a misconception the levels between VFL and NEAFL – I don’t think it’s as far as a lot of people think.Of courcse VF’s a little bit better, but I think NEAFL’s a bit underrated.
HICKEY: It’s gotten a lot more professional from where we started to now. You can see, pre-season starts a lot earlier and Champion Data do the stats.
BELL: I didn’t even know what Champion Data was.
HICKEY: Back then, if the coach said you had a bad game, you had a bad game. Now there’s all sorts of media in it and it’s really good.
How do you think having some experience in senior footy before playing AFL helped your chances?
BELL: Playing with the bigger bodies and coming up against ex-AFL players. I got matched up on Darryl White a couple of times when he was at Mt Gravatt so I think that helped me out a fair bit.
HICKEY: I remember I missed out on an 18s game when I was in the 18s and instead of playing against NSW, I played against Labrador and had to ruck against Spida Everitt and Trent Knobel.
I thought, ‘Well, I’m not going to be rucking against 18 year olds if I make the AFL, going to be rucking against AFL ruckmen. So, I think as a ruckman coming through, I gained a lot playing QAFL rather than playing a TAC Cup competition, because you can’t substitute size and maturity.