WINCHELSEA football product Darcy Parish will soon have a cult following after landing at Essendon with the Bombers’ first pick in this year’s AFL draft.
But Parish’s biggest supporters have been by his side throughout his junior football journey, and gathered at the Parishes’ family property at Wensleydale, south of Winchelsea, to watch Tuesday night’s draft.
The loudest and proudest fan of the promising 18-year-old footballer is his grandmother Glenda, the mother of Darcy’s father Glenn.
Mrs Parish, a devoted Geelong fan, said sharing her allegiances between the Cats and Bombers wasn’t a hard decision after Essendon officials were quick to snap up Darcy with pick five in the draft at Adelaide.
“I’ll have both now, I’ve been Geelong all through since I was a kid,” she said.
“I had the kids up here when they were young and tried to get them all to barrack for Geelong, but it didn’t work because they went for different teams.”
Mrs Parish said she believed her grandson was destined for the elite level after watching him represent Victoria from a young age.
Darcy first earned state honours in primary school before going on to claim back-to-back All Australian jumpers after solid under-18 national championship campaigns.
“I always did, he’s always been a good footballer,” Mrs Parish said.
“From under-12s I went to all the Victorian things he’s played,” she said.
“I went to under-16s and then to 18s, and helped them out with all the boys by taking them to training, because Ange can’t do it all – I’ve loved it.
“He’s a very level-headed kid and doesn’t brag, so it’s great to see him do so well.”
Parish is the oldest of four sons, Cassidy, Finlay and Indy, to parents Glenn and Ange.
The devoted parents made the trek to South Australia and were sitting alongside their son when newly appointed Essendon coach John Worsfold called out Darcy’s name.
Ange Parish said she breathed a sigh of relief when Darcy was chosen by a Victorian club.
Parish was expected to go to either Melbourne or Essendon, but could’ve slipped to pick number six, which would have signalled a move interstate to the Gold Coast Suns.
“It was actually relief and we were thankful it was over,” Ange Parish said.
“We were very happy and just ecstatic that he’s gone to Essendon – it would’ve been very difficult if he’d gone interstate.
“And he’s been looked at since he was 16 that he was going to be drafted, so we had in the back of our mind, ‘will this ever happen?’, so we can relax now.”
Kylie Parish, Darcy’s aunt, said the family was looking forward to watching the former Geelong Falcon tackle the next chapter of his career.
“We’re a very close-knit family and supported him the whole way through and will continue to support him for the rest of his career in football for the Bombers,” she said.
“We’ll all be there every week if we can, watching him.”