Former VFL Players In AFL Grand Final
When the first ball bounces on Saturday in the biggest game of the year, there will be four players taking to the field that exemplify the success of the VFL talent pathway.
Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn), Josh Gibson (Hawthorn), Isaac Smith (Hawthorn) and Shane Mumford (Sydney) each entered the AFL system after catching the eye of recruiters with impressive stints in the VFL competition.
Sam Mitchell like many other footballers, made his way through the TAC Cup system playing for the Eastern Ranges. However, with no success in the draft that season, Mitchell joined the Box Hill Hawks in the VFL. After a standout year Mitchell was drafted by Hawthorn with number 36 pick in the 2001 NAB AFL Draft.
Mitchell has since accrued a list of honours that would outshine many others, including 2011 All-Australian selection, 2008 Hawthorn Premiership Captain, 06’ 09’ 11’ Peter Crimmins Medallist, 2003 AFL Rising Star Winner and 2002 J.J. Liston Trophy.
Mitchell also received 26 votes in the 2012 Brownlow Medal, making him equal second with Trent Cotchin – the second year in a row he has been runner up.
Josh Gibson is another Grand Final footballer that made the most of the VFL pathway after not being drafted from the Oakleigh Chargers. Gibson spend time at Port Melbourne before being recruited by North Melbourne with number 7 pick in the 2005 NAB AFL Rookie Draft.
After 65 games with the Kangaroos, Gibson was traded to the Hawthorn Football Club in 2009 trade week.The athletic defender often takes the oppositions best forward due to his great leap and excellent judgement.
Shane Mumford depicts a slightly different journey into the AFL. Mumford made his way onto people’s radars with his performances with the Bunyip Football Club in the Ellinbak and District Football League. The Geelong Cats VFL side recruited Mumford to their Club in 2007 and after a year he was rookied to their AFL side with number 57 pick.
After 21 games for Geelong in the AFL, Mumford moved to the Sydney Swans and has since played 55 more AFL matches.
Last but not least, fomrer North Ballarat Rooster Isaac Smith has made a qucik rise up the ranks after playing in North Ballarats 2010 Grand Final side in the VFL, and was then drafted at the end of the 2010 season.
Born in New South Wales, Smith became serious about his football when he moved to Ballarat for University. Smith was soon snapped up by the North Ballarat Roosters and participated in their 2010 Premiership.
In this time, the versatile midfielder caught the eye of Hawthorn recruiters and at pick 18, became the Hawks first selection in the 2010 NAB AFL Draft.
Smith has brought much-needed pace to the side as well as agility, impressive goal sense a big left-foot kick.