JOEL SMITH had only played 28 senior games since being drafted as father-son in 2017, but 2023 was a different year for the Demon. 

He played 14 games booting 11 goals on his way to cementing his spot as a key figure in Melbourne's 22.  

“It’s been exciting this year for me, finally stringing some games together,” said Smith.  

“To get 14 games out this year with no injuries, it’s been really good. 

“Being able to build some confidence moving into next year.”  


A run of unfortunate injuries meant Smith spent large patches of the last five years sidelined, but a strong run of form in the VFL saw him step up to the senior side.  

“I’ve been pretty unlucky [with injuries], a lot of them have been ones I can’t control, like an incident or impact,” Smith said.  

“But to get that monkey off my back and hopefully [there'll be] good things to come next year.

“[Hopefully] I can play a full 24 games next year, it’ll be unbelievable.”  


Smith’s father, Shaun, donned the No.29 for his 62 games with the Dees, a number he inherited for 2023.  

A fan favourite, Shaun was known for being a high-flying forward, who booted 96 goals over four seasons.  

Smith was offered the No29 following the departure of Jayden Hunt to the West Coast Eagles.  

“It’s been special. When the number came up, they asked me, I said yeah I think it’s a cool move to do,” said Smith. 

“It might’ve been a bit of good luck [taking the number], it’s been awesome.

“Whenever I kick a goal, they flick straight up to him [on the big screen]. It’s been good for me and for him.  

“He’s extremely proud of me to be wearing that number and hopefully I can keep following that on to future generations.”  


That future generation might have already arrived, with Smith and his partner Elise welcoming their first child, Tilly, towards the end of the season.  

“Little Tilly, she’s awesome, one of the best things ever to happen to me,” said Smith.  

“We’re very grateful every day, she’s beautiful and we’re loving it.”