By Oliver Lees
Sunbury product Josh Goater has lived out a football dream after he was picked by the club he spent his entire life supporting at last night’s AFL draft.
The celebrations in Sunbury had to wait a little longer than some may have expected, as the 190-centimetre explosive runner slid outside the first round, which was announced on Wednesday night.
Goater was ultimately selected with the 22nd pick by North Melbourne.
Speaking to Fox Sports, he said he was eager to get into the blue and white stripes, and had even delayed heading to his school formal to watch the draft with his family.
“It was a bit of mixed emotions, I would have loved to go [in the first round] and relieve the stress a bit, but I’m absolutely over the moon to land at North Melbourne,” he said.
“I’ve followed North Melbourne my whole life and I’m stoked to be able to be at that pick and land myself at that club.”
The Sunbury Lions Football Club shared a message on its Facebook congratulating him after his name was read out.
“Josh started with the Sunbury Lions juniors and progressed to play his first senior game alongside big brother Luke in round one this year, and showed the class to prove that he was here only for a short time, and now takes the next step to where he will truly shine,” the post read.
“Enjoy the journey and where your football takes you, we will be watching every step Buddy.”
In a year filled with the periodic cancellation of community sport due to COVID-19 restrictions, Goater was still able to find ways to impress recruiters.
Playing for the Calder Cannons this season he averaged 24 disposals, two tackles and five marks across seven games, and was given the opportunity to run out for Essendon in the VFL.
That included an uptick in form to round out the NAB League season, where he had 30.5 disposals and 8.5 intercept possessions in his last three matches.
Goater was also able to play three senior matches with the Sunbury Lions senior team alongside his older brother Luke, before the NAB League season began.
Although listed by some draft commentators as a midfielder, Goater has used his size and quickness to fill gaps all over the field through his development.
That included handy stints across the half back line for the Lions and the Cannons.
Speaking on draft night, Goater said he grew up admiring the goal kickers.
“I was a forward, so Drew Petrie was someone that I always looked up to,” he said.
Goater will join a large crop of talent at North Melbourne pushing for selection as they rebuild in the AFL next season.
The Kangaroos selected Jason Horne-Francis with the club’s first ever number one overall pick in a bid to strengthen their midfield stocks.
North Melbourne list manager Glenn Luff told North Melbourne media he felt the club had achieved its aim of bringing in a mix of well-rounded young players.
“We’re able to bring in a couple guys that can play in the backline as rebounding defenders, but they’ve got the versatility to play in the midfield or wing position down the track,” Luff said.
“We’re excited to see them on the track.”
The Shinboners were collected the wooden spoon last year after securing just four wins across the season.
The rookie and pre-season drafts will be held tonight.