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Debutant Blakey jumping with glee

Blakey's dream comes true Nick Blakey speaks to SwansTV after being named to make his debut on Saturday night.

Nick Blakey has always longed for bursting into a packed AFL arena in front of his beloved grandparents and Saturday night will see the first-year Sydney Swans draftee live out the grandest dream of his childhood.

Both sets of grandparents will be in the Marvel Stadium stands as Blakey makes his AFL debut in the Swans’ season-opening clash with the Western Bulldogs.

As hid dad John – the Swans’ Head of Development – locks his eyes on the game from the coaches’ box, his mum Kelly, sister Molly and grandparents will watch on among thousands in the crowd.

And the QBE Sydney Swans Academy product, who pulled on the red and white as the club’s first-round selection at last November’s AFL Draft, says he cannot wait.

“I have no idea how I’m going to be feeling on game day. I’ll probably be pretty nervous but all my family will be there. I’ll be lucky enough to have both sets of grandparents at the game – and that’s something I’ve always wanted. I’ve always wanted them to see me play AFL and see me play AFL live, so I’m really excited,” Blakey told SwansTV.

“It’s been a long time coming and something I’ve dreamed of for a long time, so now that it’s only a few days away I’m absolutely pumped.”

Blakey had shown plenty of promise as a towering key forward in Sydney’s pre-season matches, with Swans coach John Longmire lauding his ability to “hit the scoreboard, create contests in our front half and really provide us another marking target”.

But the 195-centimetre youngster said it wasn’t until Longmire arrived on his doorstep on Wednesday night that he could sniff a debut clue.

“‘Horse’ came over to my house last night. It was about eight o’clock at night and I wasn’t expecting too much,” Blakey said.

“But then ‘Horse’ knocked on the door and I start thinking, ‘Surely he’s not coming over to tell me I’m not playing’, so I was thinking, ‘I might be making my debut’. It had been on my mind a bit and there was a whole lot of emotions when ‘Horse’ told me the great news.”

Marvel Stadium will welcome a trio of Swans Academy products in Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills and Blakey, while lively small forward Sam Wicks so too hopes to one day reach the big time after signing as a rookie last November.

Blakey’s eight-year Academy journey saw him learn from some of the best to have graced Swans folklore, with the head-coach succession line of Paul Roos, Michael O’Loughlin and the incumbent Jared Crouch shining the light for the many stars of today.

Blakey’s time in the Academy opened the door for the left-footer to hone his craft in the NEAFL, Under-18 AFL Championships, Academy series and via a number of other pathways, while a primary focus of the program is also the nurturing of the boys and girls as people.

Blakey said the Academy had played a central role in putting him in a position to realise his AFL dream.

“The Academy’s been huge in making me the footballer I am now and getting me here,” Blakey said.

“They’ve got so many great coaches at the Academy and you’ve got to put in a lot of hard work, but they’ve got all the right people and the right program in place. So if you follow what the Academy sets out you can do anything with it. I’m lucky enough to have ended up at the Swans, and to be making my debut in Melbourne on Saturday night is a massive credit to the Academy.”