There will be plenty of WA families with a personal stake in this Saturday’s AFL Grand Final between Richmond and Geelong at the Gabba.
Richmond has five WA born players: Nathan Broad, Marlion Pickett, Shai Bolton, Kamdyn McIntosh and Liam Baker; while Geelong will field three: Harry Taylor, Mitch Duncan, and Sam Menegola.
Richmond are favourites for the game after winning two premierships in the last three years, while Saturday will be Geelong’s first grand final appearance since 2011.
Geelong’s Sam Menegola will make his grand final debut after being delisted from Hawthorn and Fremantle earlier in his career.
Menegola played for the Peel Thunder WAFL side during his time at the Dockers, after being unable to earn a spot in Fremantle’s AFL team.
Peel Thunder senior coach Cam Shepherd says it is a testament to his determination.
“Both Hawthorn and Fremantle were very strong teams at the time he was trying to get in. He was able to consistently play well and keep putting his name forward even though he wasn’t getting a look in,” Mr Shepherd says.
“He’s so resilient and so mentally strong.”
Cam Shepherd says Menegola never had an ego.
“We gave Sam a variety of roles. He’d play wing, or half back or in the middle. He was so keen on helping the team,” Mr Shepherd says.
“He was a real leader in our group.”
Richmond’s Kamdyn McIntosh grew up in Pinjarra before being drafted to the Tigers at the end of 2012.
Pinjarra Tigers Football Club acting treasurer Matthew Bee played with Kamdyn from the age of 15, after Kamdyn switched from soccer to Australian rules.
“He only started football late because all his mates did. To everyone’s disgust, he was really good straight away,” Mr Bee joked.
“He quickly overtook a lot of us who had been playing longer than him.”
McIntosh was part of the Pinjarra Football Academy at Pinjarra Senior High School.
Pinjarra Senior High School health and physical education teacher and football specialist Paul Galloway says McIntosh always pushed himself to be better.
“He wasn’t academic, but he was really quite determined. He always wanted to get the best out of himself whether it was football or school,” Mr Galloway says.
“He was late to football and he used his mates as the benchmark to be better. He worked really hard.”
Matthew Bee says McIntosh is still the same down to earth guy who left to play AFL.
“He always makes time to call us and text back home. There’s a big group of us who grew up together. We’re super proud of Kamdyn,” Mr Bee says.
“All the boys will be watching the Grand Final together again, just like 2017. It was huge in 2017 when he won his first premiership. It was quite rowdy.
“We were all super proud of him, we can’t wait to do it again this weekend.”
The game will begin at 4:30pm Perth time on Saturday.