Franky Watson: The boy from Balgo

Headshot of Jakeb Waddell
Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser

“Good things come to those who wait.”

The adage could not ring any truer than for recent AFL debutant Francis Watson, whose first match on the big stage, surrounded by family and friends, was perfect.

The 23-year-old, who hails from the tiny Kimberley community of Balgo, signed with the West Coast Eagles three years ago and made a name for himself with impressive performances in the 2017 pre-season JLT series.

After being set back by an ankle injury, Watson was a solid contributor in the WAFL and slowly regained form, but was never able to crack the senior side.

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But the long wait came to an end two weeks ago.

Watson was picked to make his highly anticipated debut against the Melbourne Demons in Alice Springs on July 21 when he was named as a last-minute replacement for injured skipper Shannon Hurn.

His big moment was made even greater when his sister and brother-in-law quickly flew to the Northern Territory for his first game.

And family members from Balgo had already made the trek to Alice Springs for the match. Luckily, it was the closest game this season to the remote community of 360 people.

Watson told the Broome Advertiser it was a day he would never forget.

“Coach (Adam Simpson) came up to me as I was walking to the change rooms the day before and said he wanted me to prepare as if I were playing,” he said.

“My sister flew over the next day when she did not know yet if I was even playing or not.

“About four hours before the game, I was in a taxi with Liam Ryan and Bailey Williams and coach gave me a call and said I was going to be playing and I was over the moon.

“It was a massive achievement for me, even though it was off the back of someone’s misfortune, but I was very grateful for the opportunity.

“My family were on the sidelines very excited, maybe even more excited than I was.”

The debutant racked up 14 disposals and was praised by coach Adam Simpson after the game.

His performance earned him a spot in Saturday’s win over North Melbourne at Optus Stadium, where he recorded 13 disposals in his second game.

Watson said he hoped he was making the Kimberley proud.

“When I was little, I didn’t really have anyone I could look up to and I really try to be the best role model I can be to kids back home and in the communities,” he said.

“I want to set the best example for people back home and try to make everyone proud.

“I hope I am showing them that anything is possible.”

The Eagles name their squad for Sunday’s match against Carlton later today.

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