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A debut to remember

BTV: Rd 5 | Ham's debut Essendon's Brayden Ham, taken with the 72nd pick of the 2018 AFL Draft, made his debut in round five against the Kangaroos. We spoke to the debutant, as well as his proud parents, Sam and Lisa.
Once we got out there I felt pretty at home and all of the teammates were getting around me as well."
Brayden Ham

Young Bomber Brayden Ham has described his whirlwind AFL debut in Friday’s Kick for the Kids game as simply “awesome”.

The 19-year-old was thrust into Essendon’s clash with North Melbourne as a late inclusion prior to the game, replacing injured midfielder David Zaharakis, but he handled the occasion brilliantly in the side’s 58-point victory.

Ham’s family arrived at Marvel Stadium beaming with pride having rushed into Melbourne from Torquay, and his mother Lisa was thrilled to be on hand to see the latest Bomber take the field for the first time.

“I’m not nervous, I think it’s just a surreal situation that we’re in right now, so we’re just going along for the ride,” she said pre-game.

“I think he’s fairly composed, as he usually is. So hopefully he’s also breathing it all in and sucking up the good vibes.

“Seeing him with the jumper is amazing and seeing how the boys got around him at the end (of the jumper presentation) and how the coaches talk about him, you can see all of the reward for effort.”

 

The signs were positive early in the match, with Ham finding a few early touches to settle his nerves and work into the furious pace of AFL football.

“Honestly, I was pretty nervous heading into the game, but once we got out there I felt pretty at home and all of the teammates were getting around me as well, so I was pretty comfortable,” Ham said post-game.

“A couple of early touches and even a couple of touches (help) get you into the game as well, so I felt pretty confident.”

That confidence shone through throughout the match as the composed debutant repeatedly used the ball tidily under pressure.

A key aspect of Ham’s game is his athleticism and it played a in important role in the highlight of his day when he outran the Kangaroos to take a cracking contested mark deep in the forward line in the dying stages of the game.

He coolly converted the set shot, much to the excitement of his new teammates who streamed in from all parts of the ground to celebrate in a moment he will never forget.

“I was getting a bit edgy. I had a bit of energy left and thought I had a bit on my opponent, so I thought I’d take him down to the goal square and I managed to just duke one.

“I was nervous, 10 metres out – they’re not the great ones – but I managed to put it through.”

Ham said it was surreal to line up alongside Dylan Shiel (36 disposals, 10 inside 50s, four goal assists), Zach Merrett (39 disposals, 16 contested possessions, nine tackles and seven clearances) and Dyson Heppell 32 disposals, 11 marks, six inside 50s) in the midfield on Friday.

“It’s pretty amazing, I probably fumbled a few times just taking in what they’re doing, I was out of it a little bit.

“They’re awesome, they killed it today and they made me feel welcome in there.”

He went on to finish the match having covered 14.2km – ranking third on the ground – and added 10 disposals, five tackles and four inside 50s to go with his memorable goal in an encouraging display of his talent, an effort that his father Sam was certainly proud of.

“(I’m) very proud, it was unbelievable, I never thought we’d get this far so early,” Sam said after the win.

“It was great to see him backing himself and being confident out there, he knows how to play the game so he’s just got to feel comfortable and it will all come.”

The Bombers gift Brayden Ham the customary Gatorade Shower following his first win.

The annual game drew in a bumper 48,278-strong crowd and Sam said his son’s ability to stay composed on such a big occasion bodes well for his future in the red and black.

“It’s a good one to run out on for a debut, if he can handle that then I think there’s a future for the fella.”

The attention now turns to next Thursday when the Bombers will take on the in-form Magpies in the ANZAC Day Game at the MCG.