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Our Comeback Hero - Scott Lucas

BTV: Comeback Hero; Scott Lucas Our Comeback Hero for Round 8.

Scott Lucas admits to being nervous and intimidated when he first walked into the Essendon Football Club. He’d grown up on a Dairy Farm in Camperdown – 190kms from Melbourne – now he was competing with 19-year-old premiership players for a spot in the side. 

Lucas spent his youth playing cricket in summer and football in winter. He dreamed of playing in the AFL but didn’t want to get ahead of himself.

“I played for the Geelong Falcons when I was 16 so that’s the first thought really when you make that squad that you think my footy is progressing,” Lucas said. “But still, of the 600-700 players that play in that 'comp' each year, 50 or 60 get a chance. As the year went on I was able to make the Vic Country team and it became a real ambition, but until you’re drafted it really is just a dream.”

The day before the 1994 National Draft, Essendon sent a delegation to meet Lucas, then a 16-year-old prospect. They had lunch with his parents and explained what the Club was all about.

The Bombers were keen to select Lucas with their first pick (number four overall), but they were worried about what Sydney would do with their two top three picks (numbers two and three overall). 

Lucas had met with the Swans but they didn’t seem as keen. His intuition proved on the mark, as the Swans selected Anthony Rocca and Shannon Grant, allowing the Bombers to swoop on Lucas.

The 1994 draft also saw the Club land Blake Caracella, Gary Moorcroft and Justin Blumfield. A short time later, Essendon added Matthew Lloyd to its draft loot, as a compensation pick from new Club Fremantle.

For the next 15 years, Lloyd and Lucas dominated the Bombers forward line, but their partnership was initially honed in the classroom. 

“I was doing year 12 at St Bernard’s,” Lucas said. “The greatest fortune for me was Matthew Lloyd was doing year 12 at St Bernard’s as well … he was the big star because he’d been there from day dot, I was just the country boy that was down to have a kick of the footy.” 

Lucas made his Essendon debut on Anzac Day 1996 played 14 games in his first season. He won the Club’s best first year player award and backed up his promising debut year by playing every game in 1997 and winning the most improved player award.

Injury interrupted his 1999 campaign, but he returned in 2000 to kick 57 goals in the Dons premiership-winning year. “The resolve of the group was that we needed to come out and right the wrongs of the previous year because we felt that was one that got away,” Lucas said. “The greatest pressure is the pressure you put on yourselves and we fully expected that in 2000 we were going to win and we were meant to win.”

Lucas retired at the end of the 2009 with 270 games and two best and fairests to his name. “It was a privilege to play for that Club and I just hope all players across all teams understand the opportunity they’re given to go to an AFL Club and ply their trade, because there are fantastic people involved in each Club that provide great advice and guidance to young men,” he said.

Post his playing days; Lucas has commenced a successful media and player management career. “For all footballers it’s a difficult transition because what you’ve done and what you’re going into are so different, that’s hard to fully prepare,” he said. “For me, mid career I did a building apprenticeship and worked in the building industry for a while and I started to do a little bit of study in sports administration because that was a real passion and interest.

“It’s been really enjoyable being involved with player management now, providing some insight to players about how they go about their careers and providing that support. Having transitioned out of the game and what I learnt from that experience is certainly helpful when dealing with players now.”

Lucas still gets back to the family farm in Camperdown. His children love spending time there.

The lessons he learned on the land throughout his own childhood have held him in good stead.

“It’s a fair assumption to say that all dairy farmers are very hard working, even the ones that aren’t that busy. It is a tough industry,” he said.

“I think it’s a fantastic concept [the Country Festival], anything that brings further light to some of the difficulties that those on the land face is a good thing. Conditions, weather – things beyond the famers control really can make times tough.

“In saying that I wouldn’t swap that part of my growing up for anything.”