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Banfield turns disappointment into opportunity

Tom Fee  November 28, 2017 3:35 PM

Bailey Banfield speaks to media on Tuesday.

As the AFL’s draft class of 2016 celebrated their rise into the top echelon of the national game, Bailey Banfield was left with his AFL dream unfulfilled.

Instead of dwelling on what he was missing, the then 18-year-old got straight to work with WAFL side Claremont and achieved an incredible amount in his extra year in the State league.

Banfield started his WAFL pre-season within hours of finding out he would not play AFL in 2017 and gave everything to the Tigers this year, winning the club’s best and fairest as a 19-year-old. 

It all came while completing the second year of his economics and finance degree at UWA and coaching the Swanbourne Tigers Junior Football Club’s year nine side to a thrilling premiership win.

At the end of the season, Banfield was rewarded for his development with a rookie draft selection with Fremantle and was arguably better for the experience of an extra year outside of the AFL.

“I had plenty of fun this year at Claremont,” Banfield said.

“We were a bit unlucky, I think, to miss out on finals but to really develop in the WAFL this year and play alongside and with some of the guns of the competition was a really great experience. 

“It was special to cap it off with a best and fairest. I had a consistent year and it was finished off strongly.” 

Banfield said it was important that he had his football at Claremont to focus on as he processed missing out on his AFL dream. 

“Missing out this time last year was pretty devastating,” Banfield said.

“I had to roll into pre-season that night so that was obviously a driver for me, but I’ve put all thoughts of the draft out of my mind within a week or so and I just wanted to do my best for Claremont.

“I knew that if I played to my potential, all the rest would take care of itself. 

Banfield beamed when talking about his side at the Swanbourne Tigers, still on a high after their Grand Final win against Quinns Thunder in September.

“I had a really fun year with the boys, it was my second year coaching them,” Banfield said.

“We won a premiership with three goals in the last five minutes to win it by a point. That’s pretty much why I coach, it’s great fun and there’s a great bunch of boys there.

“Just being able to share a little bit of what my coaches have told me, I get a lot out of it and the boys really enjoy it.”

With Banfield’s arrival at Freo, it’s clear the Swanbourne Tigers have found a favourite son in the AFL. 

“They were some of the blokes who were most excited for me yesterday. It was great fun with them this year,” Banfield said.