“Clear up the desk mate, we’ve just taken you! You play for the Saints now.”
Some phone calls just change dinner plans. Others change lives forever.
Callum Wilkie was sitting at his desk in an Adelaide CBD accounting firm late on Friday afternoon, but his mind was elsewhere.
The 2018 NAB AFL National Draft had wrapped up two hours earlier, and the club that was most likely to select the SANFL star – St Kilda – had just picked three mature-age players.
The 22-year-old had a year to remember for North Adelaide, winning a premiership and clinching the Roosters’ best and fairest.
But despite his credentials, Wilkie conceded his chances were slim.
“I was waiting for the Rookie Draft to start and just thought, ‘Na, I’m dust here’,” Wilkie relayed on Monday.
“I figured the Saints would be picking someone else.”
So when the intercept defender received a call from Chris Toce, St Kilda’s National Recruiting Manager (SA/WA), he was understandably overwhelmed.
“You play for the Saints now!” Toce repeated.
With the Rookie Draft starting earlier than expected, he hadn’t seen his name appear and was now utterly speechless.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said.
I just walked out of the office in disbelief, it was ridiculous.”
After enjoying the night with his family, including his “hysterical” mum and a surprise visit from his premiership-winning North Adelaide coach Josh Carr, the young accountant returned to the office for one final visit.
“I went back in on Saturday morning and cleaned out the desk,” Wilkie said.
“It was pretty surreal knowing I wouldn’t be coming back.”
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A one-way flight to Melbourne followed, before he pulled on the Saints training kit on Monday morning for the first taste of life as a professional footballer.
“Getting picked was more of a relief to be honest,” he said.
“I know I’ve worked bloody hard since juniors, and it was always in my head that I could make it.
“I’m just pinching myself at the moment.”