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Spargo takes it in his stride

Matt Burgan  December 5, 2017 5:51 PM

Charlie Spargo's Arrival We chat to Charlie Spargo after his first week at the Melbourne Football Club

IT’S BEEN a little more than a week since Charlie Spargo was Melbourne’s first selection, at No.29, in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft.

Since that time, he has experienced a big, but rewarding time at his new club.

“It’s been a pretty reasonable adjustment. It’s been a whirlwind few days with the draft last Friday (November 24) and then moving [back] down on Sunday [from Albury] and moving in with a host family, but they’ve been great,” he told melbournefc.com.au.  

“One of the players is temporarily in the house that I’m in, Billy Stretch, and he’s been really good in taking me to training and helping me out with whatever I need.

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Charlie Spargo in action at training last week (Photo: Matthew Goodrope)

“Training wise, they’re long days, but all of the players have to go with it. All of the players have been terrific in welcoming me, and all of the new draftees, and helping us out. Anything we don’t know about, or any drills we’re unsure about, they’re really friendly and happy to help out.”

Upon arrival on his first day, Spargo said he was greeted by co-captain Jack Viney.

“The first person to meet all the draftees was the captain, Jack Viney, who was really good. He was welcoming us. He’s been really good in the last few days helping us out,” he said.

“Then we met all of the players as soon as we went into the locker room. They were all really good and came up and shook our hands, and introduced themselves and asked how the last few days were.”

The 18-year-old, 172cm tall came to Melbourne with two connections at the club – Mitch King and Angus Brayshaw – which he said had helped him early on. 

“[Mitch] is a family friend and I’ve known him for a while, with him being a Bushy (Murray Bushrangers) from Wodonga, just over the border,” he said.

“Then I was also family friends with Angus Brayshaw for a while, because his dad and my dad played together at North Melbourne.

“It’s definitely good to already know some people at the club and have more mentors and people that can help you out.”

Reflecting on draft night, which he watched from his hometown of Albury, Spargo said he wasn’t sure where his football would take him.

“It was pretty weird because I had no idea what was going to happen on the night,” he said.

“I’m really happy to be staying in Melbourne. I went to boarding school, just over the [Yarra] River at Melbourne Grammar for the past three years.

“I know Mum is pretty happy I’m staying in Melbourne and a bit closer to her, rather than somewhere else, so I’m really happy to stay in Melbourne.”

The New South Welshman said football had been a big part of his life, but he was never pressured into playing football by his family. 

“Dad coached the local team, so I’ve been around footy for a while,” he said.

“They were a pretty successful team, so I’ve been around a good footy team. I know good footy culture, and what it takes to win, in terms of a club level and somewhat how a footy club operates.

“I moved to Melbourne Grammar in year 10, so I went there for three years and it was a really good experience in terms of putting me out of my comfort zone and making me more independent, so it was a really good move.”

A fourth generation Spargo to enter VFL/AFL ranks, Charlie said he was proud to continue the family link.

“I only found out last Friday night that [my great grandfather, Bob] played [two games] for Melbourne [on top of playing for Footscray], so it’s a pretty big honour to continue the tradition,” he said.

“In saying that, Dad (Paul) wasn’t hung up on me getting drafted and he always supported me on whatever I did. Since he’s got good footy knowledge, he knows what it’s like to be around an AFL environment.

“It’s definitely helped me as I’ve wanted to get drafted with my footy. He’s really helped me out in the professional side of things. He’s helped me prepare as much as possible for what AFL’s going to be like, so it’s been good.”

Spargo barracked for North Melbourne growing up, as Paul played 81 games for the Kangaroos from 1985-92 and nine matches with the Brisbane Bears in 1993.

“I was forced to go for North growing up,” he said with a smile.

“But Dad was really happy wherever I went and he was happy for me to go interstate because he knew I could do it – already moving to boarding school before. He was just happy to see me happy and see me get drafted.”

“I’m sure he was excited to see me staying in Melbourne, which was a bit closer.”

The small forward described his style of play as someone who likes to “tackle and chase” and “kick a few goals every now and then”.

Now, Spargo is determined to overcome his shoulder injury and make the most of his opportunities next year.

“Pre-season is pretty full-on, so I’m just trying to do every session. I’m coming back from a shoulder reconstruction at the moment, so the aim at the end of pre-season is to be training fully with the main group,” he said.

“Hopefully during the season, I’ll play some really good footy with Casey and then maybe even get one or two games, or some games, at senior level. That’s not really a big worry for me – the first year is more about development for me.

“I’ll just train my hardest and compete to my best and see where that takes me.”