What an amazing 24 hours for Western Australian star prospect Matthew Johnson.
There were tears in the young gun’s shattered household on Wednesday night after he was overlooked in the first round of the National Draft.
Then in the lead into night two, all eyes were on what Fremantle were going to do with its prized Pick 21 amid trade interest from several rival clubs, most notably Hawthorn.
Sport‘s greatest rivalry is just around the corner and you can catch the Ashes live and ad-break free during play. New to Kayo? Start your free trial today >
But Johnson’s name was the first to be read out on Thursday to ensure he’d be staying put in Perth by joining the Dockers to fulfil his AFL dreams.
“This is a great win for Freo, they’ll be absolutely rapt,” AFL Draft expert Kevin Sheehan said on Fox Footy.
“He’d be delighted he’s staying at home and playing on those vast wings of Optus Stadium.”
The selection of the 192cm Subiaco midfielder rounded out Fremantle’s crop of Western Australian draftees after taking Jye Amiss (Pick 8) and Neil Erasmus (Pick 10) — the best three local stars available in a major coup.
The Dockers followed it up by taking another WA talent with Next generation Academy prospect Eric Benning with Pick 54.
“Obviously a little bit awkward and deflating for Johnson last night not getting picked up, but to stay in his hometown, to now be drafted with two other Western Australians,” Saints great Leigh Montagna said on Fox Footy.
“He is one of the best kicks in the draft, make no mistake. He’s got that ability to play on the outside and he might start his AFL career as a wingman.”
Johnson described the outcome as a “dream come true, ” particularly in joining fellow WA draftees Amiss and Erasmus at the Dockers.
“Last night was obviously a bit flattening and deflating I guess,” Johnson told The West.“Being forced to wait made this experience today even more special and enjoyable.
“It was a mix of joy and relief. It’s just a dream come true. Neil is one of my best mates and I’ve spent a lot of time with him and Jye is a great bloke as well.
“It’s pretty much a perfect result if I’m being honest.”
Fox Footy draft expert Michael Ablett saw similar traits in Johnson to Western Bulldogs star Bailey Dale.
“Johnson is at his best when he keeps it simple. He’s really got that ability to come off a wing and half back, can pinch hit through the midfield,” he said.
“Just loves to set up play and create, very good either side of the body… he is a bargain buy, an absolute steal for Fremantle.”