THERE aren’t many players who have fought harder to reach their 100th game than co-captain Sam Docherty.
Docherty’s recent journey has been well publicised, missing two entire seasons due to consecutive ACL injures in the pre-seasons of 2018 and 2019.
Prior to this, Docherty’s career was nothing short of spectacular and he shows no signs of slowing down now.
It’ll be a special occasion for the boyhood Bluebagger when he finally runs out for game No.100: nearly nine years after being drafted.
Moving on out
Now a co-captain of Carlton, Docherty was originally drafted to the Brisbane Lions in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft.
Selected with pick No.12, Docherty moved away from his home in Phillip Island to the Gabba: ironically, the scene of his 100th game tomorrow.
On the move
Docherty’s first season was delayed through some injury niggles, before spending the rest of the year in the NEAFL.
In the No.1 guernsey, he broke through for his AFL debut and ended up playing 13 games at the Lions: often as the sub.
Come season’s end, Docherty eventually made the decision to return to Victoria — ultimately securing a trade to his boyhood club for pick No.33, which the Blues obtained in a trade for Shaun Hampson.
A boyhood dream come true
It was a tough personal start for Docherty in the first chapter of his exciting new journey, losing his father while he was away on pre-season camp.
The 20-year-old bravely fought on and achieved a lifelong dream of pulling on the Navy Blue jumper for the first time in Round 7: against Collingwood at the MCG on a Friday night, no less.
Docherty gathered 13 disposals and displayed his impressive composure in a tough loss to the Pies, going from strength to strength and playing every game for the rest of the season.
The best - and fairest - in the business:
Docherty established himself as a consistent member of the 22 in his first two seasons at Carlton, but he took the next step in 2016.
Playing all 22 games of the season (a first for Docherty), he forged a reputation as one of the best rebounders in the game on the way to a John Nicholls Medal.
He would narrowly outvote Kade Simpson, who he also featured alongside in the All-Australian squad of 40.
All-Australian on board
2017 was another stellar year for Docherty, averaging 28 disposals a game and falling just five votes shy of a second consecutive best and fairest by Marc Murphy.
However, after being unlucky to not feature in the final side the previous year, there was no denying Docherty a place as a 2017 All Australian.
Ranking first for kicks and marks in the AFL, Docherty was at the peak of his powers: unfortunately, he wouldn’t pull on the Navy Blue again until 2020.
While injury crippled Docherty in the next two pre-seasons, it didn’t stop Docherty from proving himself as a leader off the field.
It resulted in Docherty - alongside great mate Patrick Cripps - being named as the Club’s first ever co-captains ahead of the 2019 season, with Murphy passing on the torch.
Although he didn’t play in 2019, Docherty’s leadership was vital in a key period for the Blues as he set his sights on a return to action.
A fairytale year… all things considered
In a year no-one will forget, Docherty’s year got off to the best possible start when he married long-term partner Natalie on Australia Day weekend.
It was the perfect moment to start off a year which Docherty had been thinking of for two straight seasons.
Not missing a beat in pre-season, Docherty has since made a successful return to footy, averaging 22 disposals in the first seven games and being a sorely missed addition to Carlton’s back line.
Whatever comes next
Luck hasn’t always been on Docherty’s side, but his determination, intelligence and ability has resulted in him becoming a universally loved player in the AFL landscape.
That’s especially true for every Bluebagger, who have followed Docherty’s journey since he arrived at Ikon Park in 2013.
Every one of his 99 games have been fought for and earned by Docherty, and his 100th game against North Melbourne - the team he debuted against for Brisbane - this weekend will be no exception.