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THE SMOKEY (NUMBER 69) by Whispering Jack

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I did my best, it wasn't much and though I hoped the AFL would do something to help out (by penalising GWS a draft pick or two for its role in the Lachie Whitfield affair - predictably a forlorn hope), in the end I had to write something about Melbourne's second pick in next week's AFL draft at number 69.

It would be fair to say that the history of the selection is not particularly encouraging. The passing parade of players picked at 69 reads like this -

2006 - Ben Warren (Kangaroos)

2007 - Kepler Bradley (Essendon)

2008 - Bart McCulloch (Brisbane Lions)

2009 - Taylor Duryea (Hawthorn)

2010 - Cameron Delaney (North Melbourne)

2011 - Mitchell Golby (Brisbane Lions rookie upgrade)

2012 - Mark Hutchings (West Coast)

2013 - Pass (Sydney Swans)

2014 - Logan Austin (Port Adelaide)

2015 - Wylie Buzza (Geelong)

Looking back over the past decade gives the impression of a boulevard of broken promise; a number of hopefuls including one upgraded rookie who never quite made it and in 2013, the Swans provided the selection with its ultimate humiliation by turning up their noses and giving it a pass. 

There always has to be an exception to the rule and typically, the beneficiary of the exception was Hawthorn in 2009 when it selected Taylor Duryea who has gone on to play in two AFL premiership teams (2014 & 15). And just to show that the Hawks have the Midas touch when it comes to recruiting, they used the next pick at 70 in that draft on another dual premiership player in Matt Suckling who was picked up by the Bulldogs as a free agent last year and was unlucky to miss out on a third flag early last month.

So there is a glimmer of hope that the number 69 will produce a miracle and perhaps even a repeat of history - not just the Duryea selection but also that of Melbourne's Jayden Hunt who was snapped up in the 2013 draft at number 57. Hunt had not played TAC Cup but rather, was spotted playing for his school, Brighton Grammar in an APS game. 

There's a similar story brewing about another APS footballer, athletic St Kevins College student 18 year old Oliver Hanrahan (183cm 74kg) who had a superb season at schoolboy level. The lightly built Hanrahan is a lively half forward who can push into the midfield and hits the scoreboard. Like Hunt, young Ollie didn't play TAC Cup but he would have been noticed by scouts who came along to look at other prospects in schoolboy games. Highly rated draft prospect Tim Taranto from the Sandringham Dragons (where a number of Hunt's schoolmates played) also attends St Kevins.

Hanrahan was superb in the APS v AGSV representative match and his performance left a few clubs including Melbourne wanting a further look at him - Hawks eye forward with late pick.

He was good enough to gain selection in the AFL Young Guns game in September and just as Jayden Hunt did in the same match three years ago, he put in a strong game and the rest is now history.

AFL Draft Central's Matt Balmer had Ollie going at 70 in his recent Phantom Draft so it's not outside the bounds of possibility that he might end up with the Demons.

Inside Football's 2016 AFL Draft edition produced this pen picture 

Oliver Hanrahan 27/8/1998 Ht: 183cm Wt: 74kg St Kevins

"Ollie played school footy this year mostly across half forward but went through midfield towards the end of the year. He has great athletic ability and ability to keep feet. He is a good kick, smart-decision maker, quick over ten metres and deceptively strong overhead. He needs to improve his tank to go the next level but he concentrated on his cricket over summer and at school so he was a bit behind at the start of pre-season." - St Kevins College Coach Paul O'Brien.

He's my smokey for 2016.

* if you thought the opening words of this piece sound familiar they come from songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, a favourite of mine, who passed away last week and a great inspiration. 

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