By Peter Blucher
If Sam Reid had set out 12 years ago to write a script for his AFL career he could not possibly have got it anything like right.
Not even with the help of the world’s best clairvoyant, and an invitation to re-draft his story every 12 months, could he have predicted what would unfold after he’d been drafted from the Sunshine Coast via the Zillmere Eagles to the Western Bulldogs in November 2007.
It was 12 years ago. Geelong beat Port Adelaide by 119 points in the grand final, Jimmy Bartel won the Brownlow Medal by seven votes, Jonathan Brown kicked 77 goals to win the Coleman Medal, and Andrew McLeod was All-Australian captain.
Football was still played at Subiaco in Perth and Football Park in Adelaide and the Gold Coast Suns and the GWS Giants had never been heard of.
And in a big double-header on Saturday 24 November 2007 John Howard was replaced by Kevin Rudd as Australian Prime Minister in the Federal Election, and Matthew Kreuzer was the #1 pick in the AFL Draft.
Other notable draftees that day were Trent Cotchin (#2), Patrick Dangerfield (#10), Cyril Rioli (#12), Alex Rance (#18), Jack Steven (#42), Easton Wood (#43), Stuart Dew (#45) and Taylor Walker (#75).
At #35, after fellow Queenslander Brendan Whitecross had gone to Hawthorn at #29, Reid was drafted by the Bulldogs at #36.
Nine months later, still only 18, Reid made his AFL debut against Adelaide at Football Park. He had 12 disposals in a nine-point loss as the Crows’ Tyson Edwards (3), the Dogs’ Nathan Eagleton (2) and the Crows’ Nathan Van Berlo (1) took the Brownlow Medal votes.
Adelaide were coached by Neil Craig and the Bulldogs by Rodney Eade.
Only four players from that game are still playing in the AFL. Jarrod Harbrow, now at the Gold Coast, was in his 22nd game with the Dogs, Shaun Higgins, now at North Melbourne, was in his 29th game at the Dogs, and David Mackay, still at Adelaide, was playing his 18th game. And debutant Reid.
Who would have thought that all these years later Reid would be set tomorrow for his 87th AFL game and his third final for a club that in 2007 didn’t exist at a ground which didn’t exist against his former club.
And all that after he retired in 2013 after being delisted and spent two years as a Giants development coach and captain of their NEAFL side before being re-drafted in November 2015 via the rookie draft.
The statistics are staggering. In four seasons at the Dogs he played 1-4-1-4 games. Total 10.
After being picked up by the Giants with good mate Callan Ward for the expansion club’s entry to the AFL in 2012 he played 14 games in two years – five in 2012 and nine in 2013.
At 24 he was a delisted and retired 24-gamer. He’d played 24 years in six years, had had 287 possessions at an average of 11.9 possessions per game, with just one game of 20-plus, and kicked three goals.
Since he shock recall by coach Leon Cameron he’s played six games at 11.3ppg in 2016, 13 games at 11.1ppg in 2017, 22 games (including two finals) at 10.7ppg in 2018, and every game this year. All 22 home-and-away games, with at least one more. And he’s averaged 15.7ppg and topped 20 five times.
Reid, who has battled Type 1 Diabetes for 10 years, was even delisted again at the end of 2017 as the Giants juggled list spots, although at least that time he had a commitment from the club that they would take him back providing no other club stepped in.
This year, among a star-studded Giants playing list he is one of only five players to have played every game. The others are Tim Taranto, Heath Shaw, Brett Daniels and Adam Tomlinson, who has been omitted this week.
He’s been used as a tagger, a defensive small forward, a close-checking defender and even occasionally through the midfield. A real fix-it man for the Giants.
It’s been a remarkable story. And while the eyes of Queensland football will be on the Gabba and the Brisbane Lions’ sell-out qualifying final against Richmond tomorrow night the next chapter in the remarkable Reid resurgence at Giants Stadium in Sydney tomorrow afternoon should not be forgotten.
Sadly, just as Reid is the good news story to come out of the Giants camp in selection for week one of the AFL finals, his teammate and fellow Queenslander Lachie Keeffe is the bad news story..
After playing the last six games of the home-and-away season Keeffe was omitted as coach Cameron welcomed the return of fun foursome Toby Greene, Brett Deledio, Jacob Hopper and Nick Haynes.
Also omitted with Keeffe and Tomlinson were Isaac Cumming and Ian Hill.
The in-form Dogs, who beat the Giants by 61 points in Round 22, will go in unchanged after coach Luke Beveridge resisted the temptation to bring back veteran pair Jackson Trengove and Tory Dickson.
There no big Queensland selection surprises for the other games.
Josh Thomas will fly the Queensland flag for Collingwood in tonight’s qualifying final against Geelong at the MCG after Nathan Buckley dropped Travis Varcoe, Matthew Scharenberg and Jack Madgen to accommodate the return of Steele Sidebottom, Jordan DeGoey and Jaidyn Stephenson.
John Noble, son of Brisbane football boss David Noble, will make his finals debut in just his fourth game after being picked up by the Magpies in the mid-season rookie draft after playing with West Adelaide in the SANFL.
Queensland ruckman Zac Smith was again overlooked by Geelong, who lost Cam Guthrie to injury and dropped Lachlan Henderson for Jake Kolodjashnij and Tom Atkins.
On Saturday night Dayne Zorko, Harris Andrews, Eric Hipwood and Charlie Cameron will play key roles for Brisbane against Richmond, who overlooked Mabior Chol (emergency).
Zorko will play his first final in his 167th game for the Lions – the longest wait in club history for a taste of finals football. Andrews will do likewise in his 96th game and Hipwood in his 74th game.
Cameron will play his first final for Brisbane after seven finals in 2015-16-17 with Adelaide, including the 2017 grand final.
The Lions made only one change to the side that lost to Richmond in Round 23 a fortnight ago, with Allen Christensen returning from injury to replace Cedric Cox. Richmond left out Noah Balta to make way for the return of ruckman Toby Nankervis.
Already one Queenslander is guaranteed a place in week two of the finals after Tim Hickey’s West Coast Eagles blitzed Essendon by 55 points in the elimination final in Perth Thursday night.
Hickey, sharing the ruck duties with Nick Naitanui in his finals debut, had six possessions, 13 hit-outs, three tackles and two marks, and won praise from coach Adam Simpson for “doing his job”.
The Eagles will play the winner of tonight’s Collingwood-Geelong game in Melbourne next week as they look to defend their 2018 premiership.