If someone had told me this time last year, that in 12 months time I would be preparing for an elimination final in the AFL, I would have told them to stop kidding themselves.

To think I am where I am right now… it is just the most unlikely of unlikely situations.

For the past four years, I have always told myself that I would one day get to this level, but I would be lying if I didn’t reveal I had my doubts.

Many, in fact.

It wasn’t just about football either.

My partner Caitlin and I had never lived together by ourselves, even in Perth, so if an AFL opportunity came from interstate I wasn’t too sure how things would play out.

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Of course, November 24, 2017 rolls around and it is a night that would change me forever.

Given my age, and having been overlooked in the past, I did not place high hopes for what might happen if I was to be drafted.

As it would go, the Geelong Football Club took a chance on me with the 24th overall selection, and I couldn’t be more grateful for changing the lives of my whole family.

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Excitement shone through me, when I heard my name read out on stage, but so did fear.

I was expected to report to the club immediately, as all draftees do.

Caitlin was heavily pregnant with our twins at the time, and my biggest fear was that out of nowhere she would start having contractions and that I would not be there for the birth.

I know she wouldn’t have been able to forgive me if I hadn’t been in Perth, where she remained for the duration of her pregnancy.

So fortunately enough she held out until it was Christmas break and about a week into our Christmas break we welcomed our twin boys into the world.

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Shortly after that I had eight days with them. I had to get back and not only apply myself into the training and wrap my head around game plays and just really apply myself and try to make a name for myself.

Still, there were a lot of things that I had to get done for us…housing, hospital appointments etc.

It was a pretty crazy time and still is a pretty hectic time but we are slowly getting settled.

Not a day goes past though where my mind doesn’t flash back to 2012, missing out on my first AFL draft and asking myself – “What is next for me?”.

That year I was playing for the South Fremantle Colts in the WAFL. Obviously it is a very important time for most 17 and 18 year olds, hopeful of cracking into the big league.

At that age it is the year to show the game’s national recruiters and scouts that you’re going to make it and to go on and play in the AFL.

I was getting looked at. I had recruiters from all corners of Western Australia make approaches to me. I knew I was heading in the right direction.

But as all injuries do, mine struck at the worst possible time; I tore a muscle in my right oblique in the middle of the premiership season and missed more than two months of football.

What happens, is the national recruiters all emphasis and focus their attention towards the state championships, so if you’re not lucky enough to be a part of it, you rarely get looked at.

Obviously I did my rehab, and got my body back right and managed to play a few more games for the South Fremantle Colts in the back-end of the year.

I kept thinking in the back of my mind, if I can turn in a strong finals campaign, they’ll have to look at me still.

Unfortunately, injuries continued to curse me. This time it was my MCL ligament in my left knee. I did a Grade III tear, and the remainder of the season was completely wiped out.

I managed to get back and play the finals series, and was also part of the Colts 2012 premiership team. However, I missed out on any real opportunity to impress AFL list managers, finding myself back at South Fremantle the following year.

I would also remain there for the next five years.

As I mentioned, not a day went past during that time where I didn’t tell – “You’re going to make it, you just have to believe Tim.”

But telling yourself that in the mirror, and believing it, are two very different things.

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Last year, I found myself playing some of the best football I ever have, and all my focus was pretty much just doing the little things to get my body right each week.

After a really good pre-season, my body was feeling really fit, which allowed me to play with more consistency than I ever had.

Ever since I missed out in 2012, I had been playing it low key ever since. I wasn’t prepared to get my hopes up after all.

There have been a couple of years throughout the journey there that I thought I sort of had a really good chance.

In 2013 and 2014 I thought I was very unlucky to at least not be given a rookie opportunity.

But again, I always had in the back of my head that I was good enough and if I chose to make myself work hard, it eventually would come my way.

My family support, and just the people who are close to me, taught me all the life lessons. My parents have always made sure I followed in the right direction and never doubted me purchasing footy at whatever level.

It was a grind. Being semi-professional was bloody hard. You have to work a full-time job, accompanied by after hours footy commitments while at the same time I was balancing trying to be a good father and partner to Caitlin and our first born.

I worked as an electrician, so I was having to wake up at 5am every morning.

I would be on sites all day, race from work to training, and then not get home until 8pm most nights.

Not really having much time to see my son before he goes to bed.

So it definitely was a challenge whether to keep doing it, but footy is just always been something that I’ve loved and I’ve just always been a massive footy fan. I’ve always loved the game.

To be lining up for an elimination final, given where the path I have had to follow to be here… it’s an incredible feeling. And I can’t wait to wake up on Friday morning.