Saturday, July 24, 2021


The twists and turns of ‘big boy’ Ben McEvoy

Hawthorn premiership ruckman Ben McEvoy wasn't just trotting out a cliche when he said during t..

By Sunday Herald Team , in Sports , at April 13, 2019

Hawthorn premiership ruckman Ben McEvoy wasn't just trotting out a cliche when he said during the week: "Footy is funny like that, it can change in the blink of an eye".

He has lived that reality more than once in a career that on Sunday, against his former club St Kilda, stretches out to 100 games at Hawthorn.

Ben McEvoy will play his 100th game as a Hawk against his former side, the Saints.

Ben McEvoy will play his 100th game as a Hawk against his former side, the Saints.Credit:AAP

Selected by the Saints at No.9 in the 2007 national draft in the days when clubs still used a top 10 pick on a ruckman (Carlton selected Matthew Kreuzer at No.1 that year), he waited until round 13, 2008 to make his debut, playing just one AFL game in his opening season.

But it wasn't until the next season, as the Saints headed towards the 2009 grand final, that the first of a series of twists and turns that would punctuate his career occurred.

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After playing his 11th game for the season in round 22 he lost his spot for the finals and never found a way back in to the team that ran within a couple of goals of a premiership that September.

The following year he played his 16th consecutive game in the preliminary final but was dropped for the grand final, only to return, when Michael Gardiner was injured in the draw, for the grand final replay.

He had experienced his first loss, too, that year having opened his career with 14 wins in a row a mark just four shy of the record held by Collingwood's Albert Lauder who played in The Machine era at the Magpies.

At the end of 2013 McEvoy took off to Asia for an end-of-season holiday after playing every game for the Saints that year, with two years remaining on his contract and every intention to go around again with St Kilda.

By the time he returned he was a Hawthorn player, having been tracked down by his manager Adam Ramanauskas in the early hours one morning during trade period and given a few hours to decide whether he would agree to join the Hawks, who were coming off a premiership but losing Max Bailey to retirement.

McEvoy, then aged 24, agreed to the switch while the Saints grabbed Shane Savage and the draft pick that landed Luke Dunstan in exchange, backing in their rucking trio Billy Longer, Tom Hickey and, at a pinch, Rhys Stanley to get the job done.

Five years later, McEvoy is in peak form while the Saints are looking to new blood in Rowan Marshall to take over the ruck while Savage and Dunstan are handy contributors, although Dunstan was dropped for the game against the Hawks.

Ben McEvoy (right) and David Hale celebrate the 2015 premiership.

Ben McEvoy (right) and David Hale celebrate the 2015 premiership.Credit:Scott Barbour

But it wasn't all plain sailing for McEvoy in his first season at the Hawks and he was out of their team as the 2014 preliminary final rolled around, showing good form in the VFL but unsighted at AFL level since round 21.

However in grand final week, after the Hawks fell over the line against Port Adelaide to qualify, the football gods intervened once again to determine McEvoy's fate.

He was fortunate enough to be – on this occasion – on the positive side of the grand final selection story as the Hawks decided to go with McEvoy against Sydney rather than Jonathon Ceglar.

Want to talk about football fortunes changing in a blink of an eye? Talk to McEvoy.

McEvoy playing in the 2010 grand final replay for the Saints.

McEvoy playing in the 2010 grand final replay for the Saints.Credit:Pat Scala

He played in the premiership against Sydney and then went back to back against West Coast with Ceglar unlucky to suffer a back injury in the back half of the season and be overlooked in preference for McEvoy and David Hale.

That the rucking pair, who coincidentally both attended Wodonga Catholic College where McEvoy's dad John taught, still hold the Hawks midfield together after that experience is testament to the resilience of both players.

With Ceglar as a handy sidekick, McEvoy remains the Hawks' No.1 ruckman and in 2019 he is tracking beautifully, marking the ball and reaching Read More – Source

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