Outgoing Macleod Football Club president Michael Lovett has seen plenty of talented junior players throughout his 12-year involvement in Melbourne’s Northern League competition.
So Lovett, who also happens to be editor of the ‘AFL Record and Custom Publishing’, is well placed to comment on the teenager taken by Richmond with its first pick in the 2013 AFL National Draft held late last week – Ben Lennon.
“Benny is a great kid and Tiger fans are going to love him,” Lovett said.
“He was a standout during his junior footy with Macleod.
“In his under-14 year, I think he was voted best-on-ground by the umpires in every game he played.
“In 2011, as a 16-year-old, he even played a few games in our seniors, when Northern Knights (Lennon’s TAC Cup team) and school footy commitments would allow.
“He didn’t take a backwards step in what is a tough competition, playing against men in Division 1 of the Northern Football League. It’s the old Diamond Valley League, so you have to earn your stripes.
“Back then, he was coached by Cristian Brandt, who just happens to be Jake King’s uncle, so there is a bit of a Tiger connection with Ben.
“I rate Ben right up there with Essendon’s Michael Hurley as the best young player I have seen at both Macleod and other clubs in our area.
“Michael is a key-position player and has obviously had more exposure so far. But Ben’s skills and ball use are outstanding.
“I am sure he will have a long AFL career.”
Macleod has been something of a production line for AFL players in recent years with Hurley taken by the Bombers at pick 5 overall in the 2008 National Draft, Billy Longer picked up by Brisbane (but now at St Kilda) with pick 8 in the 2011 Draft, Aidan Corr heading to GWS at pick 13 overall in the 2012 Draft, and now Lennon being snapped up by the Tigers at pick 12 overall in this year’s Draft.