Tag Archives: Liam Jurrah

Three that got away

Reverend Shinboner looks at three recruits that slipped through North Melbourne’s hands.

Aaron Davey

North were semi-keen on the gun Indigenous player from Palmerston Football Club in Darwin back in 2003, allowing Davey to train with the club during the pre-season. Overlooked by clubs in the national draft, North were faced with the choice between Davey and Shane Harvey – Brent’s younger brother who had been discarded by Essendon – in the pre-season draft. They went with Harvey and Melbourne picked up Davey cheaply in the rookie draft.

Davey has gone on to play nearly 150 games for Melbourne, winning the best-and-fairest in 2009. Shane Harvey played three for North Melbourne before being delisted. Continue reading

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Campbell wins Polly Farmer Medal

One of North’s big improvers of 2008, Matty ‘Flash’ Campbell, continues to look the goods, this time for the Indigenous All-Stars in their win against Adelaide. Awarded the Polly Farmer Medal for best on ground, Campbell has come a long way since carving up the dirt in Alice Springs for the Pioneers.

Matty CampbellThe transition for Indigenous players from the bush to big city football can’t be easy. Campbell has Arrente (Alice Springs region) and Arabana (around Lake Eyre) heritage and spent a fair bit of his childhood living on his grandfather’s land outside Alice. English is still his first language, but there would be plenty of other cultural barriers to be confronted with in the big smoke – many of which us whitefellas don’t even think about. ‘Sorry business’ (death in the family/community) is the most obvious, but even the simple Aussie ritual of going to the pub can present issues.

But if the barriers for Matty Campbell are big, spare a thought for Melbourne’s newest recruit, Liam Jungarrayi Jurrah. Liam is an initiated Warlpiri man from Yuendumu, a traditional Aboriginal community 300km north-west of Alice. Liam had never seen a gym until he came to Melbourne. His journey is an amazing one already (Martin Flanagan tells it as well as anyone) but far from complete. It has the potential to go anywhere.

I’ve previously written about the contribution Indigenous players have made to footy. But it’s fair to say that footy’s contribution in return is immense. It is perhaps the only aspect of mainstream Australian culture which offers real hope for Indigenous Australians (given the exploitative nature of commercialising traditional Indigenous art).

Liam Jurrah training at NorthLiam Jurrah is the AFL’s biggest test yet. I worry about what might happen if things don’t quite work out.

But then again, what are the possibilities if they do … ?

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