In a year where future star Shaun Higgins landed at the Western Bulldogs with pick 11, 32 selections later, North Melbourne nabbed a draft bargain.
Andrew Swallow was highly rated as a junior, captaining Western Australia at the National Championships.
Described as a “medium-midfielder with terrific work rate and attack on the ball”, Swallow played 12 games in his debut year, 2006, and was a key-member in the preliminary final team of 2007, lining up in all 25 matches.
He received a NAB Rising Star nomination in just his seventh game, and looked to have a bright future, but like many youngsters, hit a snag in 2008 when he managed just three games.
Sent back to the VFL to work on his outside run and spread, Swallow didn’t return until Round 1, 2009, when a late call-up saw him bounce back in style.
From not being named in the Roos’ 22, to a Syd Barker Medal barely six months later; Swallow’s transformation was reward for his outstanding work ethic and willingness to improve.
He added a new element to his game, booting 17 goals in 2009, while his tackling had him among the elite players in the AFL.
The number nine became a more rounded midfielder, and quickly became a staple in the North midfield.
Tallies of seven, 11, 16, 10, 14, 9 and 8 Brownlow Medal votes in successive seasons illustrate just how consistent Swallow was.
In all, he won three Syd Barker Medals, and led the club to four finals campaigns, in 2012, ’14, ’15 and ‘16.
An achilles injury in 2013 was a cruel blow to a player at the top of his game, but his record speaks for itself; 4,630 disposals in 224 games (20.7 per match), 78 Brownlow votes, 1,480 tackles (6.6 a game) a picture of his consistency.