On Friday night the 18 AFL Clubs converge upon Sydney to lay claim on the best young footballing talent in the country. With two picks in the first ten, St Kilda would appear to have a strong opportunity to add quality players to their list.
To answer the question of how valuable their picks are, we will take a look at who the Saints have drafted with the selection previously, and the best five players to have been drafted with the pick. We continue this with the club’s second selection, pick number eight.
SAINTS PICK EIGHT HISTORY
Friday night will be the third time the Saints have had the eighth selection in the National Draft. In 1993 they chose Michael Frost and then 10 years later, Raphael Clarke came to the club via the eighth pick.
Clarke was a much maligned figure during his time in red, white and black. Joining his brother Xavier at the club, he played 85 games mostly across half back and was a member of the 2008 Night Premiership and 2009 Grand Final teams.
Michael Frost’s time at Moorabbin was much less successful than Clarke’s. Having joined the club after being a part of Footscray’s finals campaign in 1992, Frost would play only 11 games for the Saints and would sing “Oh When The Saints Go Marching In’ just once.
The eighth selection has been quite fruitful for the clubs that have possessed it over the years. The 33 players selected have averaged 98-games, collected a Brownlow Medal and Norm Smith Medal, 10 x Premiership Medals, 7 x All Australian Jerseys, 3 x Best and Fairests and 1 x Rising Star Awards. Here are the best of the best, the top five players taken with pick number eight.
Drafted to Collingwood in 1997, Chris Tarrant was a fast leading, high flying forward in his first nine year stint in black and white. A member of the 2002-03 Magpie Grand Final teams, Tarrant won the Goal Kicking Award for the club five times, finished second in the Copeland Trophy and earned All-Australian selection before being traded to Fremantle.
In his time in the West, Tarrant became a key defender before returning to Collingwood where he played in the 2011 Grand Final team. His high flying exploits throughout his 268 game career earned him fan favourite status and Mark of the Year for the 2003 season.
A ‘slider’ in the 2010 draft, Essendon were overjoyed to have the opportunity to draft Heppell with the eighth pick. The reason for the Bomber joy was clear for all to see when Heppell won the Rising Star Award at the end of his debut season in 2011, polling 44 out of a possible 45 votes.
In 2014, Heppell would win his first Crichton Medal, as Essendon Best and Fairest, and also earned his first All-Australian selection. A natural leader, he became Essendon Captain in 2017. Despite having spent a year on the sidelines, Heppell returned to the AFL in 2017 in fine form and earned 14 Brownlow votes, an equal career high
Widely considered the walking embodiment of the Sydney Swans hardworking ‘Bloods’ culture, Jude Bolton was a fixture in the club’s midfield in 325 games, after being drafted in 1998 until his retirement in 2013.
Inducted into the Swans Hall of Fame in 2017, Bolton is one of only five Swans to play in two premiership sides and is behind only Adam Goodes for games played in the red and white. A committed and tireless worker on the paddock, Bolton retired with the record for most career tackles and tackles in a single match.
A year after Jude Bolton’s name was read out at number eight in the draft, in 1999, Joel Corey was picked up by the Cats to add to their stockpile of young talent. A fierce competitor, Corey would prove an integral member of Geelong’s golden age.
A highly decorated player, Corey claimed two Geelong Best and Fairests and two All Australian selections to go along with his three premiership medals. A fierce competitor, Corey was a phenomenal clearance winner and saved some of his best performances for the game’s biggest stage. One of Geelong’s best in each of his four Grand Final appearances, he averaged 27 possessions and was a driving force behind the Cats 2007, 2009 & 2011 Premiership triumphs.
Only two years after acquiring Joel Corey with the eighth pick in 1999, Geelong were able to use the same pick to bring Jimmy Bartel to the Cattery.
In a 15-year career, Bartel was one of the most courageous and prodigious ball winners in the competition. One of the headline acts in one of the competition’s most imposing on-ball brigade, just the fourth Cat to play 300-games, Bartel claimed most AFL awards on offer in his stellar career. His decorated career saw him become the second player to play 300-games and win Premiership, Brownlow and Norm Smith Medals.
How did we go? Who is your choice for best ever Number Eight selection? Have your say in the poll below.