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Macreadie making the most of it

The Journey | Tasmania In this special episode of The Journey, go behind-the-scenes as the 2016 draftees travel to Tasmania for camp. Presented by Virgin Australia.

Harrison Macreadie got the call-up late – so late in fact that his folks found out before him that he might just make the cut.

Not until after last Thursday night’s Richmond match did Macreadie realise that the Club’s Player Development Manager Craig 'Funky' Millar had forewarned his father Dale and mother Megan that their boy might be a late inclusion for Jed Lamb.

The fact that Megan kept silent for an hour or three truly impressed Macreadie. As he said: “I was surprised Mum didn’t tell me because she tells me everything”. 

Macreadie’s 11th-hour selection probably served to keep any nerves at bay, as the one-time Giants Academy player didn’t think he’d be fast-tracked by the Club which landed him with its third-round selection - selection 47 overall - in the most recent national draft.

“I had hoped that if I’d made the cut for Round 1 it’d be awesome, but to be truthful I’d focused on wanting to perform in the VFL,” he said.

“But I then got the call-up and couldn’t believe it.” 

Watch Macreadie speak to Carlton Media after his debut

Though the odd butterfly flitter-fluttered in his gut during the pre-match warm-up, Macreadie remembered that his cause was helped by a quiet but timely word from Kade Simpson. 

“Kade said to me: ‘Just play how you’ve been playing, do what you naturally do and just back yourself’,” Macreadie said.

“Once I got onto the ground and the first siren went all the nerves dropped because it was ‘game on’ and I was focused . . . and I felt I was meant to be here, that I was in the right place.”

Though the Blues ended the match 43 points adrift, Macreadie acquitted himself well in what will hopefully be the first of many, many appearances in the dark navy No.26 – a famous number worn by premiership players George Calwell, Jim Park, Jim Clark and the 1987 Norm Smith Medallist David Rhys-Jones.

Harrison Macreadie battles hard for possession in his AFL debut. (Photo: AFL Media)

Macreadie would have taken great comfort in the knowledge that Dale and Megan were amongst the 73,137 watching on at the MCG, along with a few others glued to the set at the Doodle Cooma Arms Hotel in the main drag of Henty – Macreadie’s hometown in southwestern New South Wales, roughly halfway between Melbourne and Sydney. 

“We’re pretty famous for the good old Henty Machinery Field Days,” Macreadie said of the place. “We get a fair few people in from everywhere. 

“The population of Henty is about 900-plus. We have a local pub that’s pretty well-known, and the bushranger ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan floated around there in the old days, but there’s not much else to it. It’s got one main street. 

“In saying that, Henty was a great place to grow up. I knew everyone in town and they were all pretty friendly.” 

The Macreadies have boasted a presence in Henty for donkey’s years, while Harrison’s mother’s clan the Quinns still command a handsome football reputation in Ganmain Grong Grong Matong.

Harrison’s father Dale Macreadie, who apparently answers to “Ernie” around town, tallied more than 400 club games for Henty as a prime defender, landing two premiership medallions and representing the Hume Football League combine in the process.

Three years ago, Harrison himself savoured premiership success with his home club as a tender 16-year-old, and through the period raised many an eyebrow with a succession of stirring performances in the key defensive post.

Macreadie’s selection at 47, after GWS opted not to match Carlton’s bid, literally came out of the blue – which was fine by him and his Mum and Dad, particularly Dad.

Watch Macreadie's under-18 highlights

“I hadn’t talked to ‘SOS’ (list manager Stephen Silvagni) and had no intention of going to Carlton, but they called my name out and I was gobsmacked really,” Macreadie said.

“In the end, my Dad and I were actually cheering because the old man and myself are both Carlton supporters and we were over the moon.” 

Harrison Macreadie represents the Allies in the 2016 Under-18 Championships. (Photo: AFL Media)

As with Fisher, Petrevski-Seton, Polson and Kerr, all amongst Carlton’s most recent national intake, Macreadie is a most respectful person – which is why he was truly mortified when Brendon Bolton quite rightly pulled him up after boarding the team bus on the recent training camp in Tasmania. The moment is gloriously captured by Carlton’s video producer Darcy Muller a couple of minutes into The Journey: Tasmania which now appears on the Club’s website. 

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Before boarding the bus, Bolton reminded Macreadie and his fellow draftees of the importance of introducing themselves to people with a handshake whether known to them or unknown. Moments later, Macreadie boarded the bus and in full view of the Carlton coach forgot to greet the driver.

“I can’t believe that it happened,” Macreadie conceded. “We’d just talked about it before, I walked on and I saw one of the staffers on the right helping us out, but I completely missed the one on the left. ‘Bolts’ grabbed me and I thought ‘Oh no, I’ve done something wrong here’. 

“As a result we all had to do a few push-ups which wasn’t a great start to the trip, but it was a great moment of learning about manners and being respectful of people.”

The good people of Henty can rest assured that their boy has found a good home, for Macreadie is in no doubt that the Carlton environment is a truly healthy one. 

Asked to articulate his thoughts on how he’s found the place, the easy-going kid in the No.26 replied: “It’s been friendly, everyone is focused and I know we’re heading in the right direction under Bolts’ supervision and coaching”.