Many years ago, before Jarryn Geary was one of the AFL’s most reliable small defenders, the new Saints skipper booted seven goals from the midfield while opposing Geelong captain Joel Selwood, who also finished with seven of his own in the under-13 game.
Growing up in Bendigo, the pair went to high school together, played against each other in junior football – Geary at Eaglehawk and Selwood at Sandhurst – before they joined forces in the midfield at the Bendigo Pioneers in the TAC Cup.
“We did have a game back in the early 2000s in an under-13 game where he was on one side and I was on the other and we both kicked seven (goals) in the game and that’s a game that we keep reminding each other of,” Selwood told saints.com.au at AFL Captain’s Day.
“My team ended up getting up that day and he probably had the better players on his side so I’ve got brownie points there, but I couldn’t beat him in a 3kmer these days.
“(I played) plenty of footy with him and against him. ‘Gears’ was the type of player who had a lot of skill, a huge work rate like you’ve seen down at training and in games I’m sure. He just never gave up on the opportunity.
“I was lucky enough to go to school with him and then go on and play Pioneers with him.”
While Selwood’s entrance to the top started when he was drafted by the Cats at pick No. 7, Geary was plucked with pick No. 58 in the rookie draft, five picks before the doors were slammed shut for another year.
Despite Geary starting further back and being forced to earn every opportunity that has come his way, Selwood says the 28-year-old’s rise is unsurprising given his determination to succeed.
“To see that he limped through the draft and got picked at No. 53 or No. 57 in the rookie draft in the same year that I did; I always knew that he was going to make it because he had that will just to get there,” he said.
“I’ve seen him grow as a footballer all the way through, even when you guys were playing off against us throughout 2009 and 2010, he was super close to being in the side and played the majority of the seasons because he’s a good teammate and that’s why he’s in the position that he’s in today.”
Selwood, who was named in his fifth All-Australian side last season where he was also chosen as captain for the third time, believes St Kilda is very fortunate to have a person of Geary’s calibre to fill the void left by the clubs longest serving skipper and most decorated servant, Nick Riewoldt.
“Nick’s going to be a hard person to replace, but you have a star person and a star individual who is going to look after the footy club really well,” he said.