(Photo: Jason Heidrich)
Northern Knights captain Mason Blakey more than held his own in an exciting VFL debut for the Northern Blues on Saturday.
Playing his first game in the competition as 23rd man, Blakey collected 14 disposals and kicked a clever goal in the loss to reigning premiers Williamstown.
Blakey, who will turn 18 in September, was ultimately named as third-best by Northern’s coaches and impressed with his application and flair at the contest.
The youngster said it was “a really good experience” to test himself against one of the VFL’s best sides and run out for the Blues alongside AFL-listed teammates.
“It was great fun, to run out with the boys and step up to the next level of footy,” Blakey said.
“To come in and play against the reigning premiers as well – you’ve got to play against the best to become the best so to be up against Williamstown was a big opportunity.”
Blakey’s showing capped off what was an admirable performance from a young Northern outfit, who had 14 players under the age of 21 and only four players with AFL experience.
His clever goal in the third term – a soccer off the ground from 30 metres – was shepherded over the line by Tom Wilson and prompted big celebrations in spite of the 50-point differential.
“It was probably the first goal I’ve kicked as well in a few years and the boys got around me as well,” Blakey said.
“I thought Tommy Wilson was going to steal it but he let the ball creep over the line and get me the goal.”
Northern Blues senior coach Josh Fraser praised the performance of Blakey in the Laguna Pools coach’s report post-match.
“I thought he was outstanding, I thought his contest was exceptional,” Fraser said.
“When you see a young player come in like that and he looks at home straight away, you can’t help but be optimistic that he’ll have a really strong future.
“His leadership shone through as well as captain of the Northern Knights: we were really pleased to get him in for a game and in the end he was one of our better players.”
The Northern Blues will play their final game of the season this Saturday against Essendon from 11am.