In his 16 seasons at North Melbourne, Drew Petrie became a Kangaroo icon. Arriving in 2000 as a draftee from Ballarat, he went on to play 316 games – second only behind club record-holder Brent Harvey – and kicked 426 goals.

Now in a development role for West Coast, Petrie made time for NMFC Media to talk about his experiences as a young Roo, the power of returning to Arden Street, and some of the moments that helped mould him into one of the club's greatest and most tenured players.


Before my first training session I had one of the worst night's sleep ever.

It's kind of overwhelming being drafted. On draft day I had my first VCE exam the next day and basically two weeks later, I'm starting my life in Melbourne with a family I'd never met before.

Then you walk into Arden Street and there's Wayne Carey, Glenn Archer, Brent Harvey, Adam Simpson, Corey McKernan. The whole list of names goes on, so it was very daunting, but I also felt really welcomed by the younger cohort in the footy club, which understands what you're going through.

Boomer (Harvey) was one and Stuart Cochrane was another who put their arms around me early on for those first few years and helped me.

A young Drew Petrie in 2001, playing his third game in the AFL.

Going back to Arden Street for the first time (since playing) in 2022 for a father-son event was like walking into the locker room in 2003.

Sav Rocca was there, Leigh Colbert, Jason McCartney's two boys, 'Stevo' (Anthony Stevens), so straight away the humour kicks off and the banter and the sledging. It starts like it was yesterday.

When you're a current player and a past player is invited back and they watch training and might come into the team meeting and have the chance to speak about their time; when you're there listening, you absolutely respect and appreciate them for what they did and enjoy their company for the day, but only when you're in those shoes do you feel how powerful that moment is.

When you get invited back, you realise how special a place really is, and that's the feeling I got.

Drew returned to Arden Street in 2022 for father-son day with his son Jack.

There are moments that are fond, not necessarily because you played well or had a good experience but because you had a bad experience that helped shape who you are.

I had a couple of years as a young person in the leadership group and probably got a bit carried away and ahead of myself, and I lost my way for a period of time.

Positionally, I was getting moved around a bit because my form was inconsistent, and you could simply say I got a 'fat head' for a while.

So, getting removed from the leadership group and having to earn respect again from the group was a moment that really helped shape me. It's not a fond memory but it's a memory that I value, and I needed a kick in the backside as a young footballer.

Being able to experience finals football, they're the best memories you have.

Then there are the great comebacks. The comeback against Sydney (in Round 19, 2004), in Glenn Archer's 250th. We were seven goals down at three-quarter time and Corey Jones kicked a snap from a free kick to put us in front to win that game.

I think the memories for Glenn will be forever-lasting for the way we won that.


In the early part of my career, Adam Simpson was a mentor. He was such a great support and guide for me, and he continues to be today, here at West Coast.

My title at West Coast is wellbeing and development manager.

I cut my teeth in the real world for three years working for the community and game development team, which was a really good landing after having played and only knowing one industry.

Despite being in the industry for so long, I kind of still didn't know what I wanted to do once footy finished.

After three years of that, Covid hit and – like a lot of people – I got stood down in the community role. I had the opportunity to do some work for BHP – a sponsor of West Coast's community program - basically as a work experience kid.

I was one of maybe 10 people who were able to go to some of their different mine sites around the northern part of the state and just be a fly on the wall.

That led to an opportunity here at West Coast (with) the player development manager role.

And entering my fourth year in this role, which I thoroughly enjoy, I love working in the football department in this capacity and providing support and career guidance to all the players in our list.

After playing together as Roos for nine years, Drew and Adam Simpson reunited at West Coast in 2017.

I was so fortunate to play for so long at North Melbourne.

When the club said that it wanted to evolve and bring in some youth, I completely agreed with it, there was always going to come a time for that to happen.

Then the phone rang, and it was West Coast - 'Simmo' and Brady Rawlings, funnily enough, a couple of Shinboners. They wanted to know if I was open to coming over to play for a season.

I'm so glad I did it. It's been an amazing adventure.

  • As told to Luke Macquire


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