If Max Gawn takes a look at Optus Stadium ahead of the AFL Grand Final, he can take comfort in knowing that there will be at least one familiar and reliable face in the crowd after his every move.
Close friend and former Melbourne co-captain, Jack Trengove, who now lives in Adelaide, will be among the Devils worshipers sitting nervously in the stands.
“I might have sent a sneaky message to Gawny a few weeks ago when there was a hint that they might be able to get there,” Trengove told AAP.
âI said ‘I don’t want to ask that question, but I’m going to do it anyway. Theoretically, if you’re doing the grandma, what’s the ticket situation?’
“Max said to me ‘man you’re family they’re all yours if you want them.’
âSo my partner and I booked our flights that day and sat hoping in the foreplay to make sure they would get there.
“This is my very first big final (AFL) that I will participate in, and I hope it will be a success for the Dees.”
Trengove still remembers the day he met Gawn – a gangly kid recovering from knee reconstruction – at Casey Fields in 2009, and became good friends.
Tom Scully and Trengove – arguably the most unfortunate double Pick 1-2 in AFL history – Jordan Gysberts (No.11) and Luke Tapscott (No.18) were all drafted before Gawn (No.34 ), with Jack Fitzpatrick (No.50) completing the Melbourne course.
The only one left is Gawn – the “raw” talent who took a long time to find his rhythm and had to endure two tears from the ACL.
“He always jokes to me that if he hadn’t done his knee during his (draft) year, I would never have been to Melbourne because he would have been the No.2 pick. He’s probably right.” , said Trengove.
âIf anything, maybe the knee injury was a blessing in disguise for him, as it gave him time to really understand what’s required at this level, and that kind of dedication to your career.
ââ¦ Now he’s just the dominant force in all the competition and not only that, but he’s also evolved his leadership side and he’s so inspiring to sit down and watch.
âYou just have to watch on TV how emotional it is when he does things on the ground and really rallies the troops and lifts everyone up and puts them on his shoulders and just takes the game.
“He obviously has a lot of respect around the club and the squad and everyone really wants to play for him so he deserves every success that comes along because I know how hard he worked for it.
“I really hope he is up there at the end of the game to wield the Premiership Cup because it would be such a fitting time for everything he and the other boys have been through.”
Trengove had a brilliant start to his AFL career and was named co-captain ahead of his third season, only for debilitating fractures of the foot that derailed his career.
He lived through the lows, then was there when the Demons started to come out of the doldrums, before being written off in late 2017, later playing three games for Port Adelaide.
While Trengove has “mixed feelings” about what might have happened if his own situation had turned out differently, jealousy is not one of them.
Instead, he’s hoping his own 86-game, 22-game Melbourne career has played even a small part.
âThe overwhelming feeling for me is how excited and proud I am for these guys because I know what a lot of them went through,â he said.
âBut you sit down and think and I spent a lot of time with Christian Petracca in rehab in my day, Clayton Oliver lived in my house with me for a while.
âI still have a lot of close friends at the club.
âWithout a doubt, there has been a huge turnover since I finished, but a lot of these guys who are key to their success this year I have spent time with, so from that perspective I kinda feel part of it.
“Knowing that what I tried to teach Christian Petracca back in rehab when he hit a knee, I hope it made him a better player and a better person as a result. .
“There are things that you always feel like you’ve left some form of knowledge and things to different players – and that’s what football clubs are built on.”