Papley family legacy endures

Last Friday Tom Papley was wrapping up the working week as an apprentice plumber.

Tomorrow he will finish his first week as a professional footballer.

The goalposts shifted on the Bunyip local’s career last Friday when he was snapped up by the Sydney Swans in the AFL Rookie Draft at pick 14.

After kicking 33 goals from 15 TAC Cup matches for Gippsland Power this season the 178 centimetre small forward had some nibbles from clubs prior to the national draft.

When his name wasn’t called out in the primary round last Tuesday the 19 year-old returned to business as usual, but didn’t have to wait long for his second chance to come in.

“I spoke to Sydney and a few clubs and thought I was a little chance maybe but didn’t get picked up so I just went back to work,” Papley said.

“Then the rookie draft came up and I didn’t really think I would get picked up, but I got the call that morning so I was pretty excited.

“It’s a quick turnaround but they’re pretty welcoming all the boys, it’s a family oriented club so they welcomed me and I feel pretty comfortable.”

The Swans and the Papley name go back a couple of generations, with both Tom’s grandfathers – the late Jeff Bray and Max Papley – having played for South Melbourne in the 1960s.

Max Papley was club best and fairest in 1966 and has been a driving force in his grandson’s football career, driving him to games and giving tidbits of advice during transit.

Papley said seeing his grandfather’s name on the lockers at Sydney this week drove home the special connection.

“The two grandfathers it’s pretty special, a good story, not many times that happens so it’s pretty exciting,” he said.

Papley said 2015 had been his best season to date and hoped to leverage that next season in the Swans’ reserves with hopes to crack into the senior squad down the track.

Former Gippsland Power player Will Hams was re-drafted by Essendon in the rookie draft after being delisted by the Bombers at the end of 2015.