By Jackson Russell
KILMORE junior Josh Eyre is off to his childhood club after he was selected by Essendon with the 39th pick in the 2020 AFL Draft.
Standing at nearly 200 centimetres tall, Eyre was part of the Bombers’ Next Generation Academy and was selected after the Dons matched a bid by reigning premier Richmond.
Eyre played for the Calder Cannons in the NAB League and has been part of Essendon’s James Hird Academy since 2018.
The athletic tall became a mainstay for the Cannons as a key forward and defender and showed his athleticism at the Victorian Country Combine, running the two-kilometre time trial in 6:30, the 20-metre sprint in 2.98 second and recording top-10 running vertical jumps on both legs.
Eyre’s footballing journey began with Kilmore Junior Football Club, playing Auskick after his family moved to Kilmore in 2008.
He continued with the club all the way through to under 17s in 2019 and was registered to play for the Blues while fulfilling his Calder Cannons commitments.
Eyre said it was a dream come true to be selected by his childhood club.
“It was pretty special. I had my family around and we were sitting around the TV nervously watching and once my name got called, it was very exciting,” he said.
“Within five minutes, the house was full of family and friends. It was very special, and I’ll remember it forever.
“I was very lucky to be part of the NGA program last year through mum having Indigenous blood, so it was very special for Richmond to bid then Essendon to match it, especially being an Essendon supporter my whole life.”
Eyre said he was overwhelmed with messages of support from the Kilmore community.
“I’ve been at the club for nine years, I’ve had a great time there and had some great coaches who helped develop my footy early on,” he said.
Despite living the dream of many young footballers, Eyre still has his feet firmly planted on the ground and is not getting carried away, saying his only goal is to give 100 per cent every day.
“It’s only an opportunity at the moment, so if I can make the most of it, I can spend a lot of time at the club and develop as much as I can,” he said.
“Joe Daniher and Tom Lynch are two players that I model my game on and I hope I become like one of those players.
“They’re both tall like myself, especially with Joe being a left-footer, super athletic, really good in the contested marks and a real threat up forward.”
Essendon general manager of list and recruiting Adrian Dodoro said Eyre was too exciting to let go of when the Richmond bid was made.
“Josh is one of those guys who has amazing athleticism. He’s 199cm, but he could play on the wing, half-back, half-forward and pinch-hit in the ruck,” he said.
“He’s a very exciting talent and he’s going to excite our fans for many years to come.”
Kilmore Junior Football Club president George Zaharakis said Eyre’s dedication and hard work was nothing short of outstanding.
“He was always at JJ Clancy Oval training throughout the year, especially in the off-season developing his athleticism,” he said.
“His parents Brad and Kristy, brother Ryan and sister Chloe have supported, nurtured and helped develop Josh as a talented young footballer but also as a wonderful young man who is someone that all junior footballers can look up to.
“KJFC is very proud of his achievements to date and wish him all the very best at Essendon Football Club.”