Collingwood’s latest draftee Ed Allan is “no flight risk” to return home to WA, dad Ben says despite the family’s strong ties to Fremantle.
Ben Allan, a West Australian Football Hall of Famer, was the Dockers’ inaugural skipper and a former coach at the club in 2001.
But on Monday night the only WA team with a first-round pick, West Coast, overlooked Ed Allan in favour of Elijah Hewett – leaving Collingwood to swoop with pick 19.
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Dad Ben said it was a “pleasant surprise” to hear the Magpies call his son’s name – even though it means a cross-country move.
“I could sense Ed was getting a little bit anxious (during the Draft proceedings). A lot of the clubs he had spoken to a couple of times were in those teen picks and they were going for other lads,” he said on SEN.
“(Collingwood) came over last week to have a bit of a chat, but they certainly didn’t give any indication (they’d take him) – I guess they didn’t think he’d get to their pick.
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“He was absolutely pumped! He was over the moon.
“He’s beside himself – he can’t wait. He’s got all these famous footballers sending him text messages from the Collingwood team.”
Allan said his son understood that for most WA juniors, getting to the AFL meant moving out of home and living interstate.
And that’s good news for a club like Collingwood who lost young Ollie Henry to Geelong last trade period after the forward cited the notorious go-home factor.
“Ed understands how tight spots are and what an opportunity that he’s been given,” he said.
“I guess it’s just drilled into the WA boys from the start that if you are lucky enough to get selected, the fact is you’re going to be moving.
“There was kind of talk about, ‘your dad moved back to Perth (after his career at the Hawks), what’s your flight risk?’ I don’t think Ed’s a risk at all.
“Collingwood are as stable a club as there is going around. We hope he’s there for the next 10 years.”
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Dad Ben said he was proud of his son’s journey to the AFL, given Ed missed out on qualifying for father-son selection at Hawthorn by two games and was then sidelined for the first half of his draft year with a stress fracture in his back.
But he made an immediate impact on return and it was his record-setting Draft Combine that really got the attention of AFL recruiters.
“We were really riding the emotions (on Monday). That stay-home factor – when West Coast went with Elijah that was a bit, ‘oh god, we’ve got an 18-year-old leaving home’. The Hawthorn romance thing (of possibly playing at the club where his dad played 98 games including a premiership), you could almost sense the room building in with anticipation. But there was a few sighs of angst I guess (when the Hawks overlooked Ed).
“I don’t know how long it took to get to pick 19 but it felt like it was about five and a half hours.
“You can’t be romantic in this when you are picking first round picks.
“This is Australia’s most important sport – the clubs don’t muck around.
“There’s been a bit of talk about (just missing potential father-son at Hawthorn) and I must admit having Ed go into the open draft for us was actually good. There would have been that added pressure (had he been a father-son selection).
“To be in the open draft, he pops up where he pops up.”
Allan laughed when asked how he would have coped had Ed been taken by cross-town rivals West Coast as some experts predicted.
“I don’t think you can be in that position to be picky really,” he laughed.
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“He had some great chats to West Coast.
“We would have all jumped on whatever club Ed had gone to. It would have been a little more difficult perhaps to come to terms with the West Coast Eagles I’ve got to say, but we’re all fully fledged Pies now. A piece of cake to move across.”
Allan said young Ed was “jumping on a plane” on Wednesday to start life as an AFL footballer with Collingwood.
The youngster will have just a few weeks to get into pre-season training with his new teammates before the club breaks for Christmas and then make the big move cross-country in the new year.