Welcome to Essendon Tom Wallis (well, just about):
For as long as he can remember, Tom Wallis has dreamt of playing AFL for Essendon.
The son of two-time Bombers premiership defender Dean Wallis, Tom has spent a large part of his youth at the club where his dad first played and later became an assistant coach.
Now Tom is hoping to don the famous red and black come the end of this month.
“Essendon has been a huge part of my life,” Wallis junior said last week.
“I’ve been in touch with them all year. They told me two Fridays ago that they would nominate me, but there are no guarantees.
“It’s reassuring that they want me,” he confessed.
“They’re happy with how I’m going.”
It was an up-and-down year for Wallis, who has long been seen as a father-son prospect for the Bombers.
But a form slump before mid-season saw him struggling to retain his motivation.
“My first couple of games were not too bad,” he said.
“But towards mid-season I wasn’t enjoying my footy and I wasn’t playing the way I wanted to.
“I wish I knew why as I wouldn’t have let it happen!”
Wallis turned it around late in the season and stormed home to finish second in the Calder Cannons’ best and fairest award.
He was also judged the Cannons’ most improved player.
As well as support from Calder, Wallis had the Bombers backing him all the way.
He played two games with the VFL side.
“Essendon were a massive help, especially when I wasn’t playing my best football,” Wallis said.
“They made sure I was in the right head space and doing everything at training, and they talked to me about what was going on outside football. [Coaching staff] Martin Allison, Hayden Skipworth and Mark Neeld were all really good.”
And Bombers players Jake Melksham, Tayte Pears, Marty Gleeson and Dyson Heppell took turns at taking Wallis under their wing.
Wallis will know his AFL future by the end of this month, with the national draft on November 24 and the rookie draft three days later.
He’s prepared for the possibility that he may not end up at the Bombers.
“It’s pretty surreal and nerve-wracking that my dream could be coming true,” he said.
“To think that it’s slowly getting there and who knows what will happen. I had a chat with the old man about it [not getting to Essendon].
“I just want to play at the highest level. It’ll be what it is. Dad just wants me to be happy.”