Brand, Ford realise draft dreams

Eddie Ford has been drafted to North Melbourne. Picture Shawn Smits

Tara Murray

Calder Cannons defender Cody Brand and Western Jets gun Eddie Ford were kept up late on Wednesday night, but it was worth it as both realised their AFL dreams.

With the draft going until nearly 11.30pm, possible draftees and their families were up past bedtimes in case their name was called out.

Brand, who was a Next Generation Academy [NGA] member with Essendon, had a few nervous moments when his name was called out at pick 53.

The Western Bulldogs selected Brand, with Essendon able to have the opportunity to match the pick.

After what seemed like an eternity, it was announced the Bombers had matched the bid for the defender.

Speaking before the draft, Brand, who played for the Sunbury Lions, said playing for the Bombers would be a dream come true.

“I grew up supporting Essendon and we’re an Essendon family through dad’s bloodline,” he said.“It would honestly be a dream come true to play for the Bombers… But I’m open to any club.

“Anywhere would be a dream come true for me to play the sport I love, and do it professionally at the highest level.”

“I dreamt about it as a little kid running around the backyard, but I’m trying to stay as calm as possible.”

Brand, a key defender, models his game on his mentor and Essendon legend Dustin Fletcher.

Just three picks later, Ford’s name was called out by North Melbourne at pick 56.

Ford, who can play all across the ground, performed well in the futures game at the end of 2019.

North national recruiting manager Mark Finnigan said they were excited to get Ford.

“Eddie is an exciting forward who performed well on Grand Final day in 2019 in the Futures game,” Finnigan added.

“He has speed, power and clean hands while having the ability to take a big mark and kick bags of goals.”

There were only 59 picks on the night.

Earlier in the draft, two other Cannons found their way onto draft lists after strong testing ahead of the draft bolted them into calculation.

Matt Allison, who played for Strathmore, is headed to St Kilda after being taken at pick 26.

St Kilda head of list management James Gallagher said: “Matthew is a mobile forward who can also play down back. He’s a good kick and athletic and has great running capacity”.

Josh Eyre, like Brand, was a NGA player with Essendon meaning the Bombers could match any bid on him.

Richmond picked him at pick 39, with the Bombers quickly matching the pick.

Eyre is a key forward from Kilmore, who moulds his game on Joe Daniher.

Connor Menadue, who signed with Werribee for the 2020 season, gets a second chance on an AFL list after being taken by North Melbourne in the rookie draft.

Originally from Spotswood, Menadue played 39 games for Richmond across five years.