By Nick Armistead
Former Old Mentonian and Geelong Cats footballer, Mitch Brown, found his way to the Essendon Bombers with pick 54 in this years’ national draft, offering him a second chance at AFL level on the back of a dominant 2015 season for Sandringham.
Unable to predict whether his AFL career would be reignited on draft night, Brown was relieved to hear his name called out by the Bombers as the first of four VFL draftees.
“I wasn’t really sure where I was going to be headed but once they called my name out I was actually wrapped,” Brown told VAFA Media.
“It was a massive relief.”
Brown was initially drafted by Geelong at number 15 in the 2008 NAB AFL draft. After 15 games between 2009 and 2014, a string of shoulder-related injuries and his eventual delisting at the end of 2014, Brown worked his way back to the forefront of selector’s minds while playing as a utility for Sandringham in the VFL, before the opportunity to step up as a top-up player for Essendon arose in this year’s NAB Challenge.
Such was Brown’s form throughout this year’s pre-season competition, former Bombers coach James Hird publicly endorsed him as a player who should be on an AFL list.
The 25-year-old continued his stellar NAB Challenge form when he returned to the VFL this season as he kicked 23 goals from 21 games, including bags of five and four in the Zebras’ finals campaign.
While there were a number of AFL clubs reportedly interested in Brown’s services for the 2016 season, the Bombers were always at the top of his wish list.
“I had spoken to a few clubs but Essendon was probably a club I really wanted to go to,” he said.
“Obviously, I was there earlier this year and really enjoyed my month there so I guess Essendon was definitely at the top of the order.”
Prior to his AFL career, Brown honed his craft as part of the Cheltenham Junior Football Club, Mentone Grammar and Sandringham Dragons, before making the move to Old Mentonians’ U19s.
“I used to play school footy on the Saturday morning and then Old Mentonians on the Saturday arvo,” he said.
Despite playing just 11 games for the Panthers, Brown was quick to cause headaches and showcase his ability to dominate at either end of the ground as he kicked 35 goals at an average of more than three per game.
Brown maintains a close connection to the club and attends as many games as he can to watch his brothers and closest friends run around in the blue and gold.
“I’m there pretty much every week watching their games and I was there all of last year watching all of their games,” he said.
“It’s a great club and I’ll be done there again a lot this year.”
Although his AFL career is just recommencing, Brown can see himself rejoining the Panthers and his “best mates” at the end of it all.
“I think after my career finishes I wouldn’t mind going back and playing a season with my mates.
“That’s one thing playing with your best, best mates so I reckon once I’m a bit too old (for AFL football) I might head back to the Old Mentonians.”