Growing up a Crows supporter, there was almost nothing more special for Brayden Cook than being drafted by the Club and making his AFL debut during a Showdown.
But one memory from 2021, his first season at West Lakes, trumps that.
Two-time Crows premiership captain Mark Bickley was in the changerooms to present Cook with his guernsey ahead of his debut.
“To have the captain of our premierships pass my guernsey down to me was pretty special,” Cook said.
“I had no idea that it would be him but when I saw him standing there, I had a massive smile on my face.
“I was just trying to take it all in and he kind of just talked about going out there and using my natural talent.
“I grew up a Crows supporter and I looked up to a lot of these players so to be mates with them now is absolutely amazing.”
The young forward was Adelaide’s third pick at the 2020 National Draft and became the 248th Crow to pull on the tri-colours.
His debut announcement was also something special.
“We were training at Adelaide Oval, just running around the track, then towards the end of the training Nicksy pulled us in as a group to have a chat,” the 19-year-old said.
“He started talking about the history of the oval and about some of the greats who have debuted here and some of the greats who debuted in a Showdown.
“He told us to take it all in and to look at the stadium and on the Adelaide Oval scoreboard it had ‘Batsman Cook’ and ‘runs 248’ and that was pretty cool.
“My heart skipped a beat, it was pretty amazing and to have all the boys get around me... it was so cool.”
Cook went on to play in the Round 22 and 23 matches against Melbourne and North Melbourne, respectively, and averaged 14 disposals.
Despite earning a call-up late in the season, Cook said his first year was tough because he had to deal with a lingering shoulder injury.
He was looking forward to getting a full pre-season under his belt and improving ahead of Adelaide’s 2022 campaign.
“I rocked up at the Club two or three months into my shoulder rehab and it’s six months in total, so I spent a couple of months running around on the sidelines with the support staff,” Cook said
“The work I’ve had to put in to get to where I am now has definitely made it a little bit more special.
“I want to spend some time in the gym getting some extra armour on me.
“I want to try and get my fitness up to the absolute peak so I can head into next season being fitter than I ever have been.”