New Carlton rookie Mick Gibbons hopes his story can provide inspiration to the game’s next generation of stars from the Riverina.
The Coolamon junior’s dream came true on Friday when Carlton signed him as a rookie for the upcoming AFL season.
It ended five years of heartache and disappointment for Gibbons, who continued to be overlooked by AFL clubs despite achieving virtually everything possible at VFL level.
An excited Gibbons told The Daily Advertiser that he could not be happier to be on board at Carlton and hopes there is a lesson in his story.
“I’m incredibly humbled to be given an opportunity at one of the biggest and proudest clubs in the land,” Gibbons said.
“Hopefully it can be a good story for any young lads that come through from back home who continue to have aspirations of making it.”
Gibbons’ story is one of perseverance and resilience.
After being overlooked in his under 18 year, Gibbons moved to Melbourne and joined VFL club Williamstown.
Over five seasons, Gibbons has won two JJ Liston Trophies for VFL’s best and fairest player. He was best-on-ground in Williamstown’s 2015 premiership, best-on-ground for VFL against South Australia and a three-time member of the VFL Team of the Year.
The Blues invited Gibbons to pre-season training in December and announced his signing under the new pre-season supplemental selection period system on Friday.
Gibbons, 23, labelled Carlton’s decision to sign him as ‘validation’.
“It’s just a bit of validation, I suppose. All of the hard work, all of the sacrifices are finally worth it,” Gibbons told the Carlton website.
“Being here the last couple of months, I’ve really made some great bonds with all of the lads, this place is going places so I’m just so excited to be on board.”
The news on Friday night was met with great delight and excitement across the Riverina.
Among those to throw their support behind Gibbons were Alicia Quirk, Wagga’s Olympic gold medallist, Matt Hard, his former club Coolamon and a number of players across AFL Riverina.