Much like it takes different flowers to make a garden, it takes different characters to make a football club, and that’s something North Melbourne’s list is chock full of - different characters.
Eddie Ford is one of those characters, and deep into his first season of AFL football, the man affectionately known as ‘Elvis’ is making waves just three games into his senior career.
As he comes to grips with the top level, Ford is improving week on week, and could consider himself unlucky not to earn a NAB Rising Star nomination for his performance against Sydney in Round 22.
Finishing with 11 disposals, 2 goals, and game-highs for goal assists (3) and score involvements (10), he’s showing signs of becoming an impressive young player.
Fellow first-year Roo and close friend Charlie Lazzaro says he’s enjoying seeing Ford thrive at AFL level.
“It’s really special. ‘Fordy’ is one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met, and I love how he isn’t phased or fussed by what people think of him,” Lazzaro told North Media.
“He does what he enjoys and that’s something I absolutely admire about him, and I hope he never stops that.
“I love how he goes about his business within the four walls, but he also adds an element of fun and excitement to everything he does.
“He’s someone who’s just been born with natural flair and I love being able to spend time with him. I can’t wait to hopefully have a really long career with him.
“A footy club is a really diverse environment … to have ‘Fordy’ not just enjoying his time here, but also playing some really good footy is really exciting.”
Opportunities at AFL level are earned, not given, and it’s no coincidence Ford is making an impact in David Noble’s best 22 at this stage of the season.
Coming into the club as a raw but talented forward prospect, the 19-year-old has been grinding away in training and at VFL level to earn his opportunity on the big stage.
“I’ve seen the mountain of work he’s (Ford) put in not just over the season, but also in the extra sessions we do as a first-year group. He’s come a long way since the start of the year,” Lazzaro said.
“He’s taken it in his stride to be able to develop as quickly as he has, and to be rewarded with some games and really good performances is a real testament to his character and his dedication.
“We’ve been set a task by ‘Nobes’ of 100 kicks and 1000 handballs every week. ‘Fordy’ and I partner up to get a lot of that done.
“We’re able to tick a few boxes and we enjoy having a bit of competition with one another. It allows us each to get the most out ourselves and it’s been really enjoyable getting that done with him.”
Kicking goals at any level of football is an emotional moment, especially when it’s in a close game.
For a young player at AFL level, goals can represent the continued achievement of a lifelong dream. The emotion on the faces of the players is often palpable.
For Ford though, it isn’t just an emotional moment, but a chance for him to once again showcase his flair with some pre-planned celebrations.
Lazzaro says Ford’s interesting collection of post-goal moments is no coincidence.
“He plans every single goal celebration down to the last second, and that’s something I love about him,” he said.
“He’s such a competitor but he’s not afraid to add an element of fun, and I really admire the way he can be himself and enjoy himself, but still continue to drive standards.
“He absolutely plans every celebration he does, but he has good fun doing it along the way.”