IT was a career denied the ultimate success, but the AFL journey of the now-retired former Bendigo Pioneer Ben McGlynn should serve as a source of inspiration for those who miss out on being selected at next month’s draft.
The fact McGlynn was able to carve out 171 AFL games after initially being overlooked at both the national and rookie drafts in 2003 is testament to his persistence and hard work to never give up on his dream.
For McGlynn – who spent 2002 and 2003 playing in the TAC Cup with the Bendigo Pioneers under coach Rod Macpherson after moving from Dareton – the knock on him in his junior days was his 174cm stature.
But the disappointment of not hearing his name called at either of the 2003 drafts didn’t deter McGlynn, whose belief didn’t waver as he responded by moving to Melbourne for an opportunity to simply train with Box Hill – Hawthorn’s affiliate.
Former Hawthorn captain Richie Vandenberg told a story two years ago that summed up McGlynn’s desire to make it onto an AFL list: “He slept on the floor for a while until we found him a bed because he just wanted a chance. He put everything he had into it. He was very raw when he came down and because I was in the system he was observing the way it all worked.”
And the rest is history as after two years plying his trade with Box Hill, Hawthorn gave the-then 20-year-old a lifeline on its rookie list with pick 55 – the seventh-last player selected in the 2005 rookie draft.
Eleven years on McGlynn retires as a 171-game player with both Hawthorn (44) and Sydney (127) and a shining example to all young footballers – particularly those about to enter the Pioneers’ system or have draft aspirations next month – to not take no for an answer if at first you don’t succeed.
While McGlynn – who kicked 195 goals – gave his all to his two clubs, it’s a shame his career closes without having tasted the ultimate glory of premiership success.
McGlynn is truly a hard-luck story when you consider he played in both Sydney’s losing 2014 and 2016 grand finals, and suffered a hamstring injury in the first week of the finals in 2012 and three weeks later missed out on the chance to play in the Swans’ premiership.
A premiership would have been the icing on the cake, but it doesn’t diminish from the fact that the AFL career McGlynn forged and the path it took to get there after a draft setback is another strong lesson in dedication to making a dream a reality.