By Peter Argent
Since the AFL draft began back in 1986, with Port Adelaide defender Martin Leslie as the very first selection, football in the Silver City has enjoyed a number of talents drafted into AFL programs in our national football code.
Among three Broken Hill players secured at pick 20 Dean Solomon excelled in a number of sports as a lad, before becoming an Essendon premiership player in 2000 and playing upwards of 200-game across two clubs, the Bombers and Fremantle between 1999-2009.
He then spent a decade in the coaching ranks at the top level.
Another secured at pick 20 is current GWS Giants defender from North Isaac Cumming, who’s career is blossoming this year, playing all 24 games, after just playing 10 over the previous three seasons.
The third export from Broken Hill to be secured at selection 20 was Brett Cook by Fitzroy back in 1991.
A big, strong and athletic ruckman at 194cms and 94 kgs Cook was drafted by the Fitzroy Football Club in November 1991, but challenged the validity of the AFL National Draft through the courts.
He returned to played with Norwood in the SANFL in ’92 and waited until 1994 before he made his AFL debut.
After the ‘Roys demise Cook moved to St Kilda in 1997, where he became best known as the replacement ruckman in the ’97 AFL Finals Series in the absence of Peter Everitt and Lazar Vidovic.
Cook played six of 22 matches in the 1997 home and away rounds with St Kilda qualified in top position for major round. After 43 games across six seasons he was delisted by the Saints at the end of the 1999.
Perhaps the greatest bargain to come out of local footy was the Adelaide Crows securing Taylor Walker with pick 75.
The 2007 draft has been the first ever draft where elevated NSW scholarship players, where the respective clubs had to give-up their final selection in either rookie or senior draft in order to draft that elevated scholarship player.
Now a 220-legend of the club Walker will enter his 15th year at the top level in 2022.
The son of a West Robins legend Brent Staker was originally collected by the West Coast Eagles with selection number 37 of the 2002 draft. He went on to play 110 games in the west and a further 50 with Brisbane Lions, before injury closed his playing tenure.
He was a member of the Lions AFLW coaching staff that engineered a premiership victory last year against Adelaide.
In the same draft at Cumming, Woodvllle West Torrens premiership player this year, Kobe Mutch was collected at pick 42 by Essendon and Lachlan Tiziani was claimed at by GWS with selection 54 in 2017.
Recently retired dashing defender from North Adelaide Mitch Clisby has a couple of years on the Melbourne Demons list, playing eight senior games.
Norwood 200-game footballer Stuart Bown was added to the Adelaide Crows rookie list in 2000 and elevated to the senior list the following campaign. He made his debut for the Crows against Hawthorn at York Park in Launceston, Tasmania, playing four AFL games.
Both South’s Jordan Johns (2009) and Jake Lynch (1997) were rookie listed by Port Adelaide.
A couple that have a connection with Broken Hill are 100-plus game Swan Harry Cunningham, whose father Mark Cunningham played North.
Cunningham junior was from Turvey Park (Riverina Football League), being collected as a rookie in 2012, were selection number 93.
Indigenous talent Jermaine Jones was a North Broken Hill “Mozzie”, born in the Silver City and raised in a group home in Mildura.
Originally rookie drafted by Geelong, he played 15 games for West Coast this year.
This year’s AFL draft will be held on November 24 and 25, with the Rookie Draft the following day.