The AFL draft can change a young footballer’s life and one teenager was overcome with emotion when he was picked by a club.
The first round of the AFL national draft was an eventful and emotional one.
It was held virtually, with all 18 clubs submitting their picks from corporate boxes at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium, while the talented teenagers waited anxiously to hear their name called from around the country.
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As expected, South Australian gun midfielder Jason Horne-Francis has been chosen by North Melbourne as the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft.
Along with the prestige of being the top player in his draft class, Horne-Francis will receive a $10,000 cash payment from the league’s corporate sponsor.
There were bizarre scenes when the Kangaroos were excruciatingly made to wait the entirety of their five-minute allotment before nominating Horne-Francis, even though it was obvious they were going to choose him.
The unusual delay was due to a swap of draft picks taking place between Geelong and Western Bulldogs so the Dogs had enough draft points to secure father-son prospect Sam Darcy with the second pick.
Horne-Francis, who was following the action from Adelaide, had to watch along from his manager’s phone on delay as his name was read out by AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.
Fans were unimpressed the youngster’s crowning moment was spoiled by the delay.
“Could there have been a flatter number one pick announcement,” sports reporter Caty Price tweeted.
“From the manufactured drama of the wait to then absolutely no drama when the name is called out. Are they on delay in SA?? A bizarre 5 minutes.”
Tears flow as childhood dream comes true
There was a touching moment when Ben Hobbs was picked by Essendon with pick 13.
When his name was read out, the midfielder immediately teared up and put his head in his hands as the reality of having achieved his childhood dream had set in.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said.
“I’m so glad that my name has been called out to the Bombers. They’re an amazing club and I can’t wait to get into it.
“I’m so proud of this moment.”
Hobbs had been linked with several clubs but he was ultimately picked by Essendon, which delighted the teenager.
“I got a call this afternoon just saying if you’re there (not yet picked by another club) it could happen,” he said.
“I’m so happy it’s happened. It’s been a dream as long as I can remember and it’s the best day of my life for sure.
“Dad’s an Essendon supporter so it’s worked perfectly.”
Huge bolters in first round of draft
While the top 10 picks were chosen in their predicted order, there some bolters in the back end of the first round of the draft.
Leek Aleer came from nowhere to be recruited by GWS with pick 15, while the Sydney Swans also found a diamond in the rough taking Angus Sheldrick at pick 18.
“Those next half a dozen picks absolute bargains because of the bolters we saw tonight” expert commentator David King said on Fox Footy.
“I think we probably saw six bolters. We haven’t seen that before in the top 20 on night one of the draft.”
The remaining rounds of the AFL draft will be decided on Thursday night.
AFL 2021 Draft Order — Round 1
1. Jason Horne-Francis — North Melbourne
2. Sam Darcy — Western Bulldogs
3. Finn Callaghan — GWS Giants
4. Nick Daicos — Collingwood
5. Mac Andrew — Gold Coast Suns
6. Joshua Rachelle — Adelaide
7. Joshua Ward — Hawthorn
8. Jye Amis — Fremantle Dockers
9. Josh Gibcus — Richmond
10. Neil Erasmus — Fremantle
11. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera — St Kilda
12. Joshua Sinn — Port Adelaide
13. Ben Hobbs — Essendon
14. Campbell Chesser — West Coast
15. Leek Aleer — GWS Giants
16. Darcy Wilmot — Brisbane Lions
17. Tom Brown — Richmond
18. Angus Sheldrick — Sydney Swans
19. Jacob van Rooyen — Melbourne
20. Kai Lohmann — Brisbane Lions
Originally published as AFL Draft 2021: Tears flow as No. 1 pick named in bizarre fashion