Harley Reid is formally an Eagle after West Coast chosen the Tongala younger gun as first decide in an exhilarating and shocking opening to the 2023 AFL Draft final night time.
After weeks of debate round whether or not West Coast would commerce the decide and the appropriate to draft Reid, the Eagles put these questions to relaxation after they introduced Reid as their latest recruit.
It has been a very long time coming for Reid, who had been touted as the highest prospect on this yr’s draft for nearly two years.
“[I’m] super relieved really and honoured to be a West Coast Eagle,” Reid stated.
“It was a night I won’t forget.
“It nonetheless does not really feel actual.”
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Tongala within the highlight
For Tongala, a dairy farming town 200 kilometres north of Melbourne with a inhabitants of lower than 2,000, Reid’s success has centre stage.
Hundreds of locals at the Tongala Football Netball Club on Monday night gathered to celebrate Reid’s big moment.
There was excitement everywhere with music, a slip-and-slide, Harley Reid T-shirts and, of course, the draft itself.
Hundreds of people crammed into the Tongala clubrooms with the noise and excitement silenced completely as the West Coast’s pick was read out.
Then came the celebrations.
A huge cheer went up as Reid’s name was read out, followed by another when he was up on stage, proudly wearing the Tongala logo and holding his new jumper.
But the biggest cheer of all came when Reid gave a shout-out to Tongala during his speech.
“I used to be simply tremendous grateful for the folks round me and all my mates and household and my native membership. I’ve received on my jumper right here,” Reid stated.
“They are all again home on the native membership, received an excellent arrange there, so I admire all you guys and thanks for the help and I could not do it with out you guys … love you all.”
For Darren Maloney, who served as Tongala FNC’s president for eight years, it was a special moment.
“He’s realised his dream, how good’s that? There’s no phrases that may say it, simply so happy with him,” Mr Maloney stated.
“What an excellent effort by a small town. Especially going primary. People will keep in mind that.”
John Bentley is a stalwart of the membership and stated the watch social gathering had been within the works for months.
“When you’ve anyone like Harley, who has been the primary draft decide, it’s time to social gathering,” he stated.
“I believe in a manner it was a way of reduction, but additionally a way of euphoria in the truth that the membership, the town, has produced a primary draft decide.”
An evening filled with surprises
One of the biggest draft surprises of the night also created one of the most heartwarming moments when Greater Western Sydney sent shock waves by selecting Albury’s Phoenix Gothard as the 11th overall pick.
With Gothard tipped to go late in the first round or possibly the second, it was a surprise selection that nobody saw coming so early in the proceedings.
But nobody was more shocked than Gothard himself.
There to support his friends, not for himself, he was swarmed by those around him when his name was called.
After a quick shirt change he was up on stage collecting his new orange and charcoal jumper.
Gothard’s Albury teammate Connor O’Sullivan was selected by Geelong the pick just prior to Gothard’s, and his reaction to hearing his friend’s name called was priceless.
It was not the only surprise of the night. Almost identical scenes played out later when Oscar Ryan was selected by Adelaide.
Like Gothard, Ryan was not expected to be drafted until later on and was there to support his mates, but found himself on the main stage when the Crows selected him as the 27th pick.
“I’m nonetheless fairly stoked about it. It’s surreal actually,” Ryan stated.
“I used to be taking place with Connor simply to rejoice with him and I wasn’t anticipating to get picked up in any respect.
“I was thinking maybe Tuesday night or Wednesday night, but I was lucky enough to go Monday night and get to celebrate with all my mates.”
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