Jumping at the chance – Gil Griffin

This book may be prophetic of a future trend in Australian Rules football. It tells the story of American born and bred athletes who have been finding their way to the Australian game. The story takes in Dwayne Armstrong, who was listed with Essendon in 1996, but never played at the top level, Eric Wallace, who was listed at North Melbourne but played extensively in the VFL, Mason Cox, who played senior football for Collingwood this year, and the history-making Jason Holmes, who, in late 2015, became the first born-and-bred American to play a senior AFL game when he played for St Kilda.
The book is a little patchy, and seems to jump back and forth, repeating itself in the process. But the story of the AFL scouts running combines in the USA for athletes who had never heard of the game does make for interesting reading. The book covers the massive cultural changes that the American athletes faced and explains how some of them failed to achieve their aspirations.
It’s a fascinating story and probably suggests that the future of AFL will involve finding the tallest and best athletes from wherever they might be found.