27 CFC Games Played
32 CFC Goals
If it hadn’t been for two knee reconstructions and two shoulder surgeries, Brad Dick’s time at Collingwood might have been more significant than the series of cameos he provided across 27 games and 32 goals.
He might even have pushed to be a part of a premiership side.
Instead, each time the lightly-framed small forward and part-time midfielder showed great promise in a handful of his matches, including on a few big-occasion moments, injuries seemed to follow. Each time he looked to secure his position within the side, ill-fortune seemed to hit.
The speedy and skilled runner’s signature performance came when he kicked five goals on the Queen’s Birthday stage against Melbourne in 2009. It was a performance that had Magpie fans salivating at the prospect of what might be to come. But while there were a few other moments that stood out, including the following year’s corresponding match against the Demons and the 2009 semi-final win over Adelaide, Brad Dick’s career story eventually became one of frustration.
Dick’s father, Kim, came from Goomalling, a small town just over 130km north-east of Perth (the town’s name is inked on the inside of his right arm). But Brad was raised and learnt his early football skills in Geraldton, more than 400km to the north of the state’s capital.
He had a strong football pedigree. His uncle, Willie Dick, played seven games for Essendon in 1992 in a brief AFL career cut short by homesickness which saw him return to Perth, the city and the WAFL club.
Brad was small and scrawny as a young footballer, which saw him teased by some of those he played with and against. But when he left Champion Valley Football Club, in Geraldton, for East Fremantle, he was intent on making an impression. He managed that in a short time, and attracted the interest of Collingwood, who claimed him as pick 44 in the 2006 national draft.
It was the same draft which delivered future Magpie premiership players Ben Reid (pick No. 8), Nathan Brown (No. 10), Chris Dawes (No. 28) and Tyson Goldsack (No. 63).
Dick had grown up as a Magpies supporter and watched the draft unfold on the internet, believing he was headed either to Fremantle or Collingwood.
“When Collingwood called up my name I was absolutely rapt,” he told the Herald Sun. “I thought I sort of wanted to stay home so Freo might be okay, but then I dreamed of playing for Collingwood. Nathan Buckley was my hero.”
Dick made his AFL debut as an 18-year-old against Richmond in round three of his first season, before more than 70,000 fans, alongside another indigenous player Shannon Cox. It was also Alan Toovey’s first match, and ‘Toovs’ kicked three goals in the game, while Dick managed two majors in the 25-point win.
At his best, and injury-free, Dick was a game-breaking forward who might eventually have been able to go into the midfield. He was quick, wonderfully skilled, a lovely shot for goal on the run or with snaps and had great evasive ability. The cameos we saw were enough to convince many that he could have been a successor to guys like Alan Didak and Leon Davis. He played with a joy that was obvious to all, his broad smile reflecting the enjoyment he was getting from the game and his excited celebrations lifting both teammates and fans.
He played six games he played in his debut season, but in 2008 suffered a season-ending left knee injury, which naturally enough brought on a wave of homesickness which almost sent him home, accentuated by the death of one of his cousins.
His parents, Kim and Rosalind, and older sisters, Melissa and Cherie, supported him in the only way they knew how – they moved across the Nullarbor Plain to Melbourne. It worked, for Dick produced his best AFL season in 2009 on his return from the knee injury, playing 16 games with his benchmark performance coming on Queen’s Birthday.
On the same day Demon No. 1 draft pick Jack Watts played his first game, Dick’s performance had some wondering if they had witnessed the birth of a new star – in only his 11thgame. He had 16 disposals, kicked 5.2 and earned the weekly Rising Star nomination.
Dick encountered a few shoulder problems during the 2009 season, though he kept playing on through to the finals. But he rose to the occasion again in the semi-final clash with Adelaide, kicking two goals in the game-defining third quarter as the young Magpies stormed back from behind to win a thriller.
Dick suffered another serious shoulder injury early the following season, but managed to get back for the 2010 Queen’s Birthday clash. Just as he had the previous year, he hit the scoreboard, kicking four goals in a dramatic draw with Melbourne. Frustratingly, his shoulder gave way the following week against Sydney, which ultimately required surgery that kept him out for the rest of the season.
It was a costly injury. He had to sit back and watch the rest of the year as Collingwood went onto win the 2010 premiership. It was a shattering experience, and he couldn’t quite bring himself to attend the match, having asked Malthouse if it was OK if he could watch the game on television with his family.
Dick managed to play three AFL games in 2011, with his last one coming against Geelong in round eight. But bad luck intervened again, as he suffered a second serious knee injury – this time to his right one – in a VFL game against Casey.
He was delisted by Collingwood at the end of the year, but offered the chance to train with the club over the pre-season in the hope of winning a spot on the rookie list. But frustrated by his run of misfortune, and eager to seek a change of fortune, Dick opted to return to Western Australia in an effort to reignite his AFL career.
He trained with Fremantle, but was overlooked. Then West Coast picked him up as a rookie and he was later added to the primary list. But sadly he couldn’t crack it for a senior AFL game in his two seasons at the club.
Dick played for East Fremantle in the WAFL – once kicking eight goals against West Perth. Despite ongoing knee issues, he would go on to kick 47 goals in 2014 with Rumbalara in the Murray Football League; spent time with Southern Districts in the Northern Territory; once signed to play with his good mate and former Collingwood teammate Jaxson Barham at Lorne; and also played football in Kalgoorlie.
But for Collingwood fans, he will always be remembered for his two Queen’s Birthday games and his 2009 semi-final efforts, as much as the injuries that hindered his career.