When a junior makes it all the way – Feeling Proud!

Ruggles clinicWhat an amazing journey it has been for our own Tom Ruggles, and what a great story of perseverance.

Tom was member of our club from his Auskick days until he was a mature player at 21 yo.  He had an outstanding junior career with multiple club best and fairests and representative honours, but above all he made some great friendships. His parents Peter and Joan were never far from his side, and were great helpers around junior footy. Pete was also a committee member and a long term sponsor.

Having first made our senior side as a 16 year old, Tom was selected for the Falcons TAC squad and spent two years there, playing senior for footy for Drysdale on the occasional off week.  In 2010 he played enough club games to qualify for finals, and was lucky enough to play in a Premiership as an 18 year old under current coach Wade Chapman.

The following year, having not been drafted to an AFL club, he travelled up the highway to Werribee to play in the VFL. He stayed on our list however as his feeder club, and was a regular at our games when not playing. Tom worked his way up at Werribee from the development team through to the seniors where he became a regular. This was a great effort in itself given the long drive to and from Werribee after a hard day of landscaping with long term player and sponsor Glenn Smethurst.

In 2014, perhaps looking for a break from travelling, Tom accepted a role as assistant coach at Leopold and played the season there. However, in 2015 he joined Geelong Cats VFL squad and had an outstanding year, culminating in winning their best & fairest. Once again there was hope of being drafted …..but again he was overlooked on draft night.  That may have been the end for many, and approaching 24 he could have accepted he had done his best.  But not Tom, he was determined to make it.  In the lead up to the rookie draft he made the call to recruiting manager Stephen Wells , and pitched his case for a spot on the list.  It worked and he was the final player taken by the Cats in that draft.

In stroke of good fortune, (for him at least), a long term injury to Jackson Thurlow opened a space on the senior list and Tom was elevated.

The rest is now history.  Tom shares a locker alongside gun recruit Paddy Dangerfield and has registered 4 senior games so far in which he has shown off his silky kicking skills and a preparedness to put his head over the ball.  His rugged approach to game lead commentator Dermott Brereton to declare that “Ruggles had a well lived in head” …we think that was a compliment!

Our club is very proud of Tom and his achievements and we look forward to adding his name to our honour board of AFL Players.