FORMER Bendigo Pioneer Marty Hore remains determined to add to his 14-game AFL career following his delisting by Melbourne last month.
Hore has spent the past three years on the Demons' list, although his 2021 season - and opportunity to be a part of Melbourne's drought-breaking premiership - was cruelly thwarted by a ruptured ACL in January.
Hore took the long road to the Demons, not being drafted until the age of 22 as a mature-age recruit having had to ply his trade for three years in the VFL with Collingwood, including winning back-to-back best and fairests for the Magpies in 2017 and 2018.
Having done the hard yards in the VFL once before to earn his AFL chance, defender Hore is prepared to do the same again to get a second crack at the top level.
"There hasn't been a whole lot of AFL interest, so I'm looking to play VFL footy next year," Hore said this week.
"Hopefully, I can get my body right and show clubs that I still have what it takes to play AFL.
Hopefully, I can get my body right and show clubs that I still have what it takes to play AFLMarty Hore
"The desire and the drive is still there to play AFL footy, so I'll give it another crack... and you never know through the pre-season selections and mid-season selections; things can happen pretty quick.
"I'm still hanging on to a bit of hope that I could get a training gig somewhere at a (AFL) club this pre-season, but at this stage I'm looking to play VFL footy."
Hore - from Leitchville - is working through the process of what VFL club could be his best fit in 2022, but indicated he was unlikely to make any decisions until after the upcoming AFL drafts are held later this month.
"I'm a de-listed free agent, so I can get picked up at any time. Hopefully, something does happen at the draft, but I don't know if it will," Hore, 25, said.
"Clubs may be a bit worried about my body having not played much footy the past couple of years, but maybe they need to see a glimpse of me playing again before they give me another chance.
"But I definitely still want to play AFL footy and think I can do that. I still think I'm young enough and can, hopefully, get a few more years out of my body and that's what I'll be telling clubs."
Hore - who played all 14 of his AFL games for Melbourne in 2019 - suffered his ruptured ACL injury earlier this year on January 22 at a Demons training session at Casey Fields, ending his 2021 season before it had the chance to get started.
"The knee is feeling good. I've basically ticked off all the rehab and am feeling really good about it," Hore said.
"When I'm running around I'm not really thinking about it to be honest, which is a good thing. I'm ready to go as far as pre-season training and that's what we've been telling AFL clubs as well... if I do get a chance I'm right to go and the body is feeling really good."
Missing an entire season of football is hard enough for any player, but for Hore it came with the added frustration of having to be sidelined as the Demons firstly finished on top of the ladder and then went on to beat the Western Bulldogs by 74 points in the grand final at Optus Stadium to win their first flag since 1964.
"It was pretty tough this year... you just wish you were out there playing," Hore said.
"Everyone dreams of playing in finals and a grand final and winning a premiership, so it was hard, but that's footy and injuries are part of it.
"I suppose you're envious of the boys who were out there because you wish you were out there doing it with them, but I was super proud of the boys and heaps of them are my best mates now and I couldn't be happier for them.
"I was over in Perth with the boys for six weeks during the finals and it was a good experience and I'd like to think I contributed in some way. I helped out wherever I could; I did a bit of VFL coaching and some edits for the backline coach, so I tried to do all I could to be a part of it while I was on the sidelines."
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