WHEN Mitch Hannan walked back into the football department at AAMI Park on Thursday morning – after training at Gosch’s Paddock – he was quickly bailed up by welfare manager Shannon Byrnes.
Soon the two-time Geelong premiership player was joined by coach Simon Goodwin, along with a curious Hannan, the trio entered Byrnes’ office.
Quickly, the conversation moved from welfare to selection, as Hannan explains.
“Shagger (Byrnes) pulled me aside and said ‘we need to talk through our individual development plan’. I think it was all a bit of a hoax and then he pulled me into the room with Goody,” he told Melbourne TV.
“Goody said ‘it’s good to see you’ve settled in outside of footy’ and then he said ‘you’ll be debuting this week, congratulations’ and then gave me a little tap on the shoulder and said ‘there is a camera in the back corner’.
“It’s all happened pretty quickly.”
Hannan, who came to the club with a shoulder injury, managed to overcome his setback and play an intra-club game in the VFL two weeks ago, and a Casey Demons practice match last weekend.
But he didn’t expect to play in round one, given his pre-season was interrupted.
“I thought I might [have to wait] a little bit longer, just to get some game time in,” he said.
“I’ve been back in full training for quite some time now, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it for round one.
“It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time and even when I first got on the list, I thought ‘geez, I wonder what it’d be like just to play my first game’. It’s happened a lot sooner than I thought it would.”
Hannan, who was Melbourne’s first pick in last year’s NAB AFL Draft at No.46, was claimed as a mature-age recruit from Footscray.
A member of the Dogs’ VFL premiership – over Casey at Etihad Stadium last September – Hannan played junior football with Gisborne from 11 to 16 years old, before he moved to Woodend, where he played with a close group of high school mates.
Hannan then crossed to St Bernards, where he played for four years. During this time, he was invited to train with Essendon’s VFL program, but missed out.
After playing in St Bernard’s 2015 premiership – where he was named best-on-ground – Hannan secured on a place on Footscray’s list last year. He played 14 matches and kicked 19 goals to be a key contributor in the Dogs’ flag.
But in playing VFL and pursuing his AFL career, the recently turned 23-year-old also worked full-time in commercial drafting, before Melbourne came calling.
“This time last year I was working and just about to start my second season in the VFL,” he said.
“And a year down the track, I’m here on the AFL list, so for me, it has been a bit of a whirlwind, but something I’m excited about.
“I’ll be a little bit excited and ready for it, but I’ll have to take a lot of things in my stride, but I’m sure a lot of the players will get around me and it’ll build up for that first crack.”