Docker’s heart in Broome
Fremantle Dockers star Bailey Banfield may have hit the bigtime as an underdog in the AFL, but he still maintains a connection with his beloved home town of Broome.
The 21-year-old midfielder was picked up as a rookie in 2018 after being overlooked by all 18 clubs in two national drafts in previous years.
He was quickly propelled into the Dockers’ main side after making a strong impression in last year’s pre-season and managed to rack up an unprecedented 20 out of 23 games.
But it was Broome where Banfield spent his early years and first picked up a footy — and he wasted little time returning over the off-season.
Hailing from the family that created the Willie Creek Pearls empire, Banfield told the Broome Advertiser his ties to the Kimberley would always be strong.
“I came up to Broome for a couple of weeks after our best and fairest night and it’s really good to get back to the place where I grew up and spend some nice time with the family as well up there,” he said.
“I left to go to Scotch College for boarding when I was 13 and then my parents, Rob and Debbie, moved down a couple of years after that, but with the family business, I’ve still got aunties, uncles and grandma up in Broome. The family connection is still strong.
“We’ve got the family business and real strong ties to the community up there still.”
Banfield said he was looking forward to having a strong 2019 season for the Dockers and he hoped to build on his form from last year. “I was pleasantly surprised with how last year turned out — coming off the rookie list, you’re not really expected to play too many games, so I was lucky enough to get an early opportunity and managed to hang onto that for most of the year,” he said.
“I want to continue that momentum, play as many games as I can and try and help the team as much as I can.
“We’ve got a new group — I’m trying to help bond with those guys.”
Fremantle will take on North Melbourne at Optus Stadium on Sunday as round 1 bounces down.
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