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Recruiting Files: Dangerfield

Patrick Dangerfield of the Crows celebrates a goal during the 2014 AFL Round 14 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Adelaide Crows at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on June 21, 2014. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
Patrick Dangerfield's was on Adelaide's draft radar from a young age
There was this kid, Dangerfield, just running with the ball up and down the wing. Matty Rendell and I looked at each other, smiled and started laughing.
Hamish Ogilvie

National Recruiting Manager Hamish Ogilvie recalls Patrick Dangerfield's unique draft story.

The Crows recruiting staff were familiar with Patrick Dangerfield after seeing him in action for Victoria Country at the Under-16 National Championships in 2006, but the first indication that he could be a prospective draft target came in March, 2007. Dangerfield was selected in the AIS-AFL Academy intake and was involved in a game against WAFL club, West Perth …

“Before the AIS-AFL team went on a tour of South Africa in ‘07’, they played a game against West Perth in Perth. The AIS boys got absolutely monstered. They were so intimidated playing against men. Patty Dangerfield and Daniel Rich were the exceptions. They were the only ones who handled playing the bigger bodies and they were two of the youngest – Patty would’ve been 16-years-old turning 17 and Rich wasn’t even eligible to be drafted that year.

“Patty hadn’t played against men before like some country kids, who play seniors at a young age, but he adapted really well. He received a tick from us that day … we thought, ‘this bloke’s okay’.”

After returning from South Africa, Dangerfield lined-up for TAC Cup team, Geelong Falcons, and was also selected to represent Vic Country as a ‘bottom-ager’ at the Under-18 National Championships. The skinny 17-year-old was a far different player to the one we know today …

“That year, Patty played in defence a lot. He played on good players and played really tight – sometimes too tight. We were thinking, ‘We want this bloke to attack a bit more and show us what he’s got’, but most of the time he didn’t.  He just stayed on his opponent especially at the Champs.”

Dangerfield progressed from being “okay” to a near-draft certainty after Ogilvie and co. saw him play a few more times in ‘07’ …

“The AIS team played another game against a WAFL side, this time Swan Districts at Leederville Oval. I can remember the game vividly … even where we were sitting to watch. Swan Districts weren’t quite as good as West Perth, but they still had quite a few men in their side.

“There was this kid, Dangerfield, just running with the ball up and down the wing. Matty Rendell and I looked at each other, smiled and started laughing.

“From that moment on, we knew we wanted to pick Patty if we had the chance.

“There was another occasion that stands out in my mind and I still tease Patty about it today. I was watching him play out at Dandenong one day. It’s a pretty small ground and it gets really windy.

“Patty was doing the kick-ins and he kicked three-in-a-row out on the full, straight into the cars. It was like the ground couldn’t contain his kick, but he just didn’t read the wind very well. On a normal ground, the kicks probably would’ve been okay down the boundary line, but these blew out.

“The thing I loved was that when it came time for the fourth kick-in, Patty grabbed the ball again and was prepared to give it another go. He’d made three big howlers, but he wasn’t frightened to try again … he hit the fourth kick perfectly. He got another tick that day for showing he had balls of steel and wasn’t worried about making mistakes.”

So, Dangerfield wasn’t perfect, but he had something special …

“Patty didn’t have a standout year in ‘07’ by any means, but he did some really good things. He’d showed he wasn’t worried about making a few blues, that he had a defensive side to his game and was prepared to play on an opponent.

“Maybe, we just saw him on the right days. At that stage, Matty and I had a thing about wanting to draft blokes with a bit of ‘X-factor’. We had a lot of guys in a similar mould in a structured system and we wanted to add a bit more speed and spunk to compliment the group.

“Patty certainly fit the criteria. We saw him becoming a big, powerful midfielder and a good finals player – he had finals qualities.”

The last step was getting the promising star in front of then-coach Neil Craig …

“Towards the end of the year, Matty Rendell went to Moggs Creek late at night and spent three or four hours with Patty, and his parents John and Janette, at his grandmother’s house. Then Matty drove back home along the Great Ocean Road. You could tell right away they were a quality family of great character.

“By the time the Draft Camp rolled around, we really liked Patty and wanted him to spend some time with Neil. I can remember sitting in the indoor soccer field at the AIS in Canberra. There were five or six of us sitting in a half circle. Patty was in front of us and he just talked.

“We didn’t really ask him any questions. He told us how it was. He intelligently explained about himself, why he wanted to stay at school in 2008 and wouldn’t be coming to Adelaide right away. He’d also done some research and knew Neil’s background and bit about our Club.

“He was so prepared. It was like he was going to a job interview as a General Manager or something. He basically held court for 25 minutes.

“Then we were done. We didn’t need to talk to him again after that.”

Adelaide pounced on draft day, selecting Dangerfield with Pick No.10 …

“We had Patty really high on our draft list.

“We thought we’d get him at No.10 because the other clubs that had showed interest were picking a bit after us. Melbourne was going to be a threat, but they had a later pick (No.14, eventually used to select Jack Grimes).

“It was talked up that way, but it was never Patrick Dangerfield versus Brad Ebert for us. We rated Brad highly, but Patrick was just a little bit higher. Brad of course went to West Coast with pick No.13.

“Cyril Rioli (who went to Hawthorn at pick No.12) was a real debate for us. We all loved him. I’d coached him at the AIS. We rated him right up there. Matty and I had a great interview with Cyril at school during the year. We spent a good two hours talking, just the three of us. In the second interview at Draft Camp, Cyril wasn’t very enthusiastic and we were left with the impression he didn’t want to come to Adelaide, or leave Melbourne. We still rated him really highly.

“In the end it’s worked out well for everyone; for us and Patty, for Brad and for Cyril.”

2007 AFL National Draft, Top 20
1. Matthew Kreuzer (Carlton) – priority selection
2. Trent Cotchin (Richmond)
3. Chris Masten (West Coast)
4. Cale Morton (Melbourne)
5. Jarrad Grant (Western Bulldogs)
6. David Myers (Essendon)
7. Rhys Palmer (Fremantle)
8. Lachie Henderson (Brisbane)
9. Ben McEvoy (St Kilda)
10. Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide)
11. Patrick Veszpremi (Sydney)
12. Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn)
13. Brad Ebert (West Coast)
14. Jack Grimes (Melbourne)
15. Robbie Tarrant (North Melbourne)
16. Matthew Lobbe (Port Adelaide)
17. Harry Taylor (Geelong)
18. Alex Rance (Richmond) – priority selection
19. Callan Ward (Western Bulldogs)
20. Tony Notte (West Coast)

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs