ALTHOUGH Melbourne hasn’t had the dream start to 2019, some dreams have still come true.
Nine Demons have pulled on the red and blue for the first time this season, with Kade Kolodjashnij, Steven May, Braydon Preuss and Corey Wagner all playing for their second club.
But it’s five debutants in particular who have brought heart-warming stories this year.
Marty Hore, Tom Sparrow, Jay Lockhart, Declan Keilty and Oskar Baker have all overcome adversity to make their senior debuts in the first half of the season, getting their chance at the top level.
Take a look at how Melbourne’s four newest players made it to the big time and how they have fared to this point of the season.
Round 1 vs Port Adelaide
Marty Hore was overlooked time and time again by AFL clubs, but after winning back-to-back best and fairest awards for Collingwood’s VFL side, the Demons couldn’t say no.
The 23-year-old was recruited to the club with pick No.56 in the 2018 National Draft and wasted no time getting started in his AFL career, debuting in Round 1 against the Power.
Hore’s first game didn’t go to script, seeing him left out of the side the next week.
But after a late reprieve in Round 4, Hore hasn’t looked back.
The courageous defender has averaged 18 disposals and six marks in his nine games, becoming a crucial component in his side’s backline.
Hore has missed just one game with calf soreness since being recalled at senior level and will continue to be a walk up start in the Dees’ best 22.
A moment to remember for Marty Hore. ✨— Melbourne FC (@melbournefc) March 27, 2019
Go behind-the-scenes of our No.34's AFL debut, last Saturday at the MCG. pic.twitter.com/2ekQ9NbMVo
Round 1 v Port Adelaide
Melbourne’s first selection in the 2018 National Draft, Tom Sparrow (pick No.27), was a late inclusion to debut in Round 1.
The 19-year-old got his AFL career off to a strong start with an early goal against the Power and had 14 touches in his first outing.
With a ready-made body, the midfielder looked at home on the MCG, but was left out of the side after the Dees’ Round 2 loss to Geelong.
Sparrow has gained some valuable experience in the VFL this season, playing extended minutes in the centre and learning from talented opposition players.
Unfortunately, Sparrow has had an injury setback and underwent knee surgery three weeks ago, sidelining him for up to two months.
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Round 2 vs Geelong
In an incredible transformation, Jay Lockhart was on an AFL list for just 15 days prior to debuting.
He went from unpacking shipping containers to running around on GMHBA Stadium in the space of three weeks, after earning his call up from the Casey Demons.
Last year, Lockhart made the brave decision to move his life from Tasmania to Melbourne in a bid to play AFL footy.
Despite being overlooked in the 2018 National Draft, the 23-year-old’s persistence has paid off, and he’s now living his dream.
Lockhart has played seven senior games and slotted six goals after taking up a new role in the forward half of the ground.
Just three weeks ago, Jay Lockhart was unpacking shipping containers as a contractor. Tomorrow, he'll make his AFL debut.— Melbourne FC (@melbournefc) March 29, 2019
Learn all about Jay's journey to Melbourne.
: https://t.co/NgxJLzbYJU pic.twitter.com/fpypRqgOcl
Round 7 vs Hawthorn
Declan Keilty spent his fair share of time at VFL level before earning his debut, playing 64 games for the Casey Demons across a four-year period.
The versatile tall is the fifth current Melbourne player to play for the club after being recruited from Casey, showing the strength of that pathway.
The 23-year-old has been on the Dees’ list for three seasons, after being selected in the 2017 Rookie Draft.
Keilty has now played two AFL games, with his most notable moment coming in the dying stages of Melbourne’s Round 7 victory over the Hawks where he burst out of the centre with a crucial clearance.
Round 9 vs West Coast
Oskar Baker’s debut caused headlines, thanks to an inspiring speech from his dad, Lee.
The newest Demon suited up for the first time in Perth, and Lee presented the No.33 guernsey prior to the game.
It was an emotional occasion for the Baker family, as the 21-year-old fulfilled a promise he had made to his late mother, Trudie.
Prior to her passing in 2017, Baker assured his mother that he would play in the AFL and did just that against the Eagles.
The speedster has become an instant fan-favourite, playing four games for the red and blue, with his two-goal performance against the Giants being his highlight to date.