Like father, like son

Jordan Croft (Ljubica Vrankovic) 356244_26_ 41

Harper Sercombe

Calder Cannons’ forward-ruck Jordan Croft is officially a Western Bulldogs player.

The Bulldogs matched the Sydney Swans’ bid at pick 15 in the AFL draft on Monday night, securing the athletic tall forward as a father-son prospect, after formally nominating the Dogs as his preferred destination last month.

The 18-year-old booted 33 goals in the talent pathway this year, representing both the Cannons and Vic Metro.

Croft is also a product of the Maribyrnong College joining a number of other past students to get drafted.

While Croft’s nerves weren’t as palpable as some of the other draft hopefuls on Monday night, with his fate through the father-son system somewhat decided, he said it was a relief when his name was read out.

“It’s a bit of a weight off my shoulders now,” he said.

“It’s so exciting to join the club I’ve been involved in from such a young age, I just can’t wait to get stuck into it.

“It’s a special club for the family, to be able to represent them is something that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. It’s been a goal from a young age for me as well as the family.

“It’s definitely special, growing up watching your favourite players with your brother and siblings, it’s going to be an honour to be able to pull on the jumper and play for the team you’ve been barracking for your whole life.”

The son of utility Matthew Croft, who managed 72 goals from 186 games in the red, white and blue across 14 seasons, said his dad has always been an inspiration for him.

“He’s been a role model throughout my life and I’ve always wanted to follow what he does, and to have the opportunity to do that now is going to be really enjoyable,” he said.

His dad shared the sentiment, as he said he was proud to be able to share the Kennel with his son.

“Being a one-club player myself and then for Jordan to get the opportunity to play at the same club, it’s very special,” Matthew said.

However, it was not a dream ride to the draft for Croft, with his football skills and ability all ‘clicking’ within just the last 12 to 18 months.

“Through junior footy at Maribyrnong Park it’s always been a place to have fun and I really enjoy playing football with your mates, but when you get to that next level through the Calder Cannons I think that’s the footy where I thought ‘that’s a real opportunity’ to step up to the next level,” he said.

Even though the Bulldogs just missed out on finals in 2023, their list is exciting and ready to strike, providing Croft with plenty of things to get excited about.

“I’m excited to play with them all (Dogs’ players) but players like Cody Weightman, Aaron Naughton, they’re really crafty forwards and I’m really keen to learn off them and improve myself,” he said.

The Bulldogs also secured the services of midfield gun Ryley Sanders landing at the Kennel via pick six in the draft.

Sanders is an electric midfielder with fantastic hands and leadership qualities, he will hope to make an immediate impact through a talented midfield setup, making the move from Tasmania after boarding in Victoria.