It’s funny how footy works sometimes.
October 1, 2011 was a special day for the Geelong Football Club, as captain Cameron Ling and first year coach Chris Scott held the premiership cup aloft, the Cats’ third in five years.
But it was a pretty special day for a very, very young Connor O’Sullivan too.
As Harry Taylor was called to the dais to receive his premiership medal, there waiting for him was a six year old O’Sullivan, replete with his oversized Cats gear and nervous expression.
Then came the obligatory uneasy handshake and then the little lift onto his toes to get the medal around the 193cm Taylor’s neck.
Fast forward to Monday night and O’Sullivan would hear his name called out by AFL CEO Andrew Dillon, and waiting for him on the dais was not Taylor, but his teammate back in 2011, Joel Selwood.
“It’s come full circle,” O’Sullivan told Cats Media on Monday night, “it’s so weird to think about.”
Now 18 and standing at 198cm, O’Sullivan has Taylor covered by 5cm, and will wear the number 14, rather than the number 7, but one thing all three players share is competitivness.
When asked what Cats fans can expect from his game, it’s the first word he mentions.
“Hopefully just competitiveness, I like to play forward and back, I like to run, get on my bike, and enjoy marking and that contested style,” he said.
“So hopefully that can be implemented in my game at AFL level.”
O’Sullivan got to the Cats on the back of a draft night trade that saw Geelong trade back one spot, netting Essendon’s pick 31 in the process.
The trade took the Victory Room at Marvel Stadium by surprise, but the Albury Tigers product’s nerves were already dialed high, and though he knew the Cats had an interest, he couldn’t be sure when his name would ultimately be called.
“I had a meeting with (Cats recruiter) Liam Woodland about four or five weeks ago, but other than that at the Combine we met, had a chat," he said.
“But to be honest, I had no clue. I thought I might be somewhere between that eight to 12 range but I wasn't 100% sure, but as soon as the cameras started panning towards me I was like, 'oh jeez', and that was the first inkling I got, so it's pretty special.”
Marvel Stadium on Monday night was a sea of club polos, cameras, catering, and beaming parents and in the middle of it all was a group of boys whose dreams had just come true.
An hour after his name was called, a still smiling O’Connor took a moment and said it was starting to sink in. He was an AFL player, and better yet, he was a Geelong player.
“It's been pretty surreal, to be honest," he said.
“The nerves, the adrenaline, it's all starting to relax and it's all starting to sink in. It's an incredible feeling.”