THE journey to Bendigo's Selwood family now being on the verge of setting a new record for the most VFL/AFL games by a set of brothers started back late in 2003 of the AFL season.
That was when Adam Selwood made his debut for the West Coast Eagles.
That debut game for Adam was the first of his 187 for the Eagles and one of a tally that 17 years on has grown to 737 for the Selwoods, with brothers Joel (306 games), Scott (169) and troy (75) also having forged AFL careers.
Only the Madden brothers - Simon and Justin - with 752 have played more AFL/VFL games than the Selwoods, who will have the chance to set a new benchmark next season with Joel still playing for the Cats.
In the next edition of the Time at the Top series, Adam Selwood reflects on the early years of his career at the Eagles.
LUKE WEST: Adam, can you take us back to draft day in 2002 when yourself and twin brother Troy were both in the mix to be picked up. Troy went first at No.19 to Brisbane and then there was a bit of a wait before your name was called out by the Eagles at No.53.
ADAM SELWOOD: "In my draft year I had a bit of an issue with a reoccurring knee/calf complaint. I went into the draft reasonably confident I'd get drafted, but there was obviously a bit that had to be played out for it to happen.
"There had been some communication with Essendon through their alignment with the Bendigo Bombers that they had some interest.
"Essendon had some picks in the late 20s and had indicated that if one of the Selwoods was available at one of those picks they would have taken one of us.
"Troy was touted to go early in the second round, so I was hoping that if he went before those picks of Essendon it would allow me to get down to Windy Hill and play footy back on the QEO again with the Bendigo Bombers.
"But that was the year Carlton had salary cap issues and everyone else's picks in the draft slid up and so that commitment from Essendon didn't happen and I ended up going at pick 53.
"Instead of going to Windy Hill I ended up on the other side of the country in Perth, so that was a change, but one I'm extremely grateful for and nearly 20 years later I'm still here working for the footy club."
What was your initial reaction to having to move interstate to Perth?
"I knew the Eagles did have some interest going into the draft, but I knew nothing about Perth, only that it was on the west coast.
"A lot of what I knew about the Eagles was what they had done in the '90s (two premierships) and as far as the current day players, it was a matter of doing some quick research to find out about my new team-mates.
"I was very excited when I saw names like Ben Cousins, Chris Judd had just been recruited the year before, Ashley Sampi, Peter Matera was still on the list, Glen Jakovich, David Wirrapanda... there was some great names and I was just grateful to be able to have a new experience outside of Victoria because all I really knew at that time was just Bendigo."
Who did you move in with when you shifted over to Perth?
"The club was great with a host family set-up.
"Initially, I was with a family for 18 months to help me settle into the city and the house was only five minutes away from Subiaco oval.
"I then moved out with Damian Adkins (fellow Eagle) and then lived a few years with Brent Staker, who I was drafted with, before I made my own way and started living by myself."
What are your most vivid memories of your first pre-season?
"I remember it being so hot. There were days where the temperature was in the high 30s and in Perth that felt more like the mid 40s.
"So dealing with the heat was challenging and my mum's side of the family is as pale as it gets, so I had to make sure I had plenty of sunscreen on.
"There were days where I got really burnt, but I adapted as effectively as I could.
"I remember we did quite a few sessions down at City Beach and the soft sand in WA is as pure as it gets... to run up some of the sand hills, my Bendigo legs certainly weren't accustomed to that at all.
"I'm pretty good on a running track or out on the footy field, but the lactic acid when we were going up those sand dunes certainly got hold of me very quickly.
"There were a few players that I knew I could burn off out on the field, but when they started to pass me up those dunes I knew I was in struggle town and that I had a bit of work to do when it came to soft sand running."
How did you find John Worsfold as coach?
"John had just finished his first year as coach in 2002. I knew of Woosha as a fierce player during the '90s and then he did a bit of a coaching apprenticeship at Carlton before coming back to the Eagles.
"I really enjoyed being coached by someone who was the fabric of the footy club and always had the best interest of the club at heart.
"He's such a strong leader, is very values-driven and someone I was able to connect with from a coaching standpoint really quickly.
"But it wasn't just Woosha. There was Peter Sumich, Rob Wiley and Tony McHale also coaching and I was blessed to have a really supportive group believe in me."
You mentioned earlier there was some big names at the club when you arrived. Did you latch on to any in particular in those early days?
"When I first started we didn't have development coaches back then. You had your line coaches, so you had to seek out an older player for that extra guidance in terms of how they go about their preparation.
"I really connected with Drew Banfield, who I went on to play in a premiership with.
"He's someone who had been at the club for nine or 10 years before I got there and I'm still great mates with him today.
"He was nicknamed Trojan because he just worked so hard. He wasn't the flashiest player, but he had a great mind about how to play football and make the most of his strengths.
"I thought if I could play like Drew then that's how I'd get respect within the group.
"Drew did a lot of sessions with me, he provided a lot of guidance and was fantastic for me.
"So to four years later play in a premiership with him in his last game was a special moment."
Did you expect to play senior footy in your first season with the club?
"I wanted to play, but I obviously wasn't a top draft pick, so I'd have to prove myself and I certainly respected that process.
"I hadn't played a lot of footy with the Pioneers the year I got drafted, so for me it was about going to a club in the WAFL that could provide me with an opportunity to prove my worth.
"I was fortunate that I landed at East Perth, which had previously won three premierships in a row.
"They were a very mature group with a lot of experience. I was able to play on a wing that year and that allowed me to be able to find my feet in the WAFL system.
"I was playing solid and consistent football for East Perth, but at one stage in 2003 the Eagles were 9-1, so it was a tough team to break into and as the year went on I just had to keep controlling what I could.
"I think I was emergency nine times before my debut, so I did my apprenticeship."
That debut came in round 19 against Adelaide, who was flying in second position at that stage in 2003. What are your recollections of game one?
"I finally cracked it for a game and had that moment where I was able to call my family and share the news with them, which was fantastic.
"They were the days where there was no real plan of what role you were going to play. You started on the bench and had to be ready.
"It was about 20 minutes into the first quarter when the phone call came down... Mark Ricciuto (joint winner of the Brownlow Medal that year) was having a good game and they wanted me to come on the ground and try to quieten him for a bit.
"I thought, 'welcome to the big time' playing on Mark Ricciuto. There was a lot of nerves, but it was an experience I was very grateful for."
Did you spend the rest of the game running around on Ricciuto?
"A lot of my time was spent on Riccutio and Mark Bickley. I was pinching myself to be out there playing against some real quality opposition.
"The Crows were a strong team that year. I found a bit of the ball that game and I felt I could mix it with the best, so it gave me great confidence.
"It was a positive to get the monkey off my back making my debut and know that is what I wanted to do for the next 10 years."
GAME NOTE - Adelaide won 13.13 (91) to 10.7 (67) at Subiaco in front of a crowd of 39,681. Selwood had nine disposals.
That's a decent show of faith from Woosha to play a first-gamer on two players of the calibre of Riccuto and Bickley.
"I have so much admiration from Woosha in the faith he showed me throughout my career.
"Early in my career he always had faith that I could play and compete against the best."
And then your second game a few weeks later is against the Crows again in an elimination final. What do you recall of that finals experience so early in your career?
"The stat about Robbie Flower (didn't play his first final until game 270) had been brought up that week to me by Rob Wiley. He said not to take any game for granted, in particular a final.
"West Coast is a very proud club and to run out that day at Football Park in a final against the Crows, it was a daunting experience, but one that I really cherished.
"It ended up being Ashley McIntosh's last game, who was a stalwart of the club and one of the best defenders we've had.
"To be able to be part of that transition where the McIntoish's, Jakovich's and Matera's were still there and share in their journey is definitely still a highlight for me."
What role did you have in that final against the Crows?
"A lot of my roles early were to shut down opposition players.
"We had a very talented midfield and didn't necessarily go in with a set tag. But once an opponent started to do a bit of damage and it was felt they needed to be quietened down I tended to get that job.
"They had guys like Riccituo, Andrew McLeod and Simon Goodwin, so I'm pretty sure I would have lined up on a few of them during the day."
GAME NOTE: Adelaide won 16.17 (113) to 8.9 (57). Selwood had 11 disposals.
PART 2 NEXT WEEK - Selwood's two epic grand final showdowns with Sydney in 2005 and 2006.
TIME AT THE TOP SERIES:
TIME AT THE TOP - Andrew Collins' tales from Tigerland and the Blues
TIME AT THE TOP - Corey Jones' journey from Wycheproof to decade at North Melbourne
TIME AT THE TOP - Nathan Thompson's North Melbourne years
TIME AT THE TOP - Nathan Thompson's Hawthorn years
TIME AT THE TOP - Rick Ladson's journey from Bendigo to AFL premiership pinnacle
TIME AT THE TOP - Rowan Warfe's 110 AFL games with Fitzroy and Sydney
TIME AT THE TOP - Damien Lock's three years with Carlton
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