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AFL.com.au heaped praise on the town of Halls Creek as a part if its 2019 NAB AFL National Draft coverage on Thursday night, calling the town the ‘best AFL nursery in Australia’ after the Suns drafted Jy Farrar at pick no.60.
That was before fellow Halls Creek resident Isaiah Butters was announced as a Category B rookie signing by Fremantle the following morning.
Butters becomes the ninth Halls Creek player currently on an AFL or AFLW list, joining Farrar, Carlton’s Sam Petrevski-Seton, Brisbane’s Cedric Cox, Essendon’s Irving Mosquito, Adelaide’s Shane McAdam, West Coast’s Francis Watson as well as Melbourne’s Toby Bedford and AFLW player Krstel Petrevski.
Hlls Creek, about 2800km north-east of Perth, is located in Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy Zone in the Kimberley.
With a population of 3269 (according to the 2016 census), Halls Creek now boasts a ratio of one AFL/AFLW player per 360 people.
Butters said that footy is the main passion of the town.
“There are a lot of boys who grew up playing footy for as long as they can remember,” Butters said.
“The big brothers, dads and uncles and all that - football is the only sport you play up there.
“It’s really big and everyone has a strong passion for footy, and that’s when it comes to the girls and the boys.”
A die-hard Dockers fan, Butters reflected on his decision to come to Perth to further his career.
“I’ve supported Freo all my life, so I’m just really stoked to be here,” Butters said.
“(Coming to Perth) I didn’t even know where I was going to end up. Even if it was still playing at WAFL level.
“Coming down to Perth, this was the aim, to get to where I am now.”
Butters said the dream would be to play at Freo with fellow NGA draftee Liam Henry.
He and Henry, who was taken at no.9 in the National Draft, have played football together at Christ Church and Claremont.
They are co-founders of the burgeoning Indigenous-themed tie business Tied to Culture and Butters said playing with Henry at Freo was a natural next step in their friendship.
“Liam’s someone who, when he really puts his mind to something, he keeps going that way,” Butters said.
“He’s a good bloke, we’ve played club footy at Claremont and school footy over the years. Our relationship has grown stronger and stronger.
“(Playing together at Fremantle) that’s just another part of the story. I’ve been playing footy with him since year eight.
“That would be something bigger and more special I reckon.”
Butters wants to emulate a former-Hawk superstar on the field, and even in his first day at Freo, he has his mind on being a leader for the next generation.
“I would love to be a Cyril Rioli type player and bring that excitement to the game,” Butters said.
“Off-field, I just want to be a good bloke and, hopefully, I can be that for new draftees coming in, making them feel welcome.”