FOOTY has always been in the family for Errol Gulden, passing through three generations and across a couple of genders.
Now he’s set to step onto an AFL stage with his best mate, Braeden Campbell, after they were both selected to debut for Sydney in round one along with tall forward Logan McDonald.
Gulden was a prolific ball-winner in junior footy, mostly playing onball or on a wing. But he looks set to spend plenty of time in the Sydney forward line, where his fierce competitiveness, smart footy nous and sharp kicking skills can be a threat despite his lack of experience and size.
The 172cm Gulden says that his love of footy originally comes from his grandfather, who was the first person the 18-year-old called to pass on the news that he’ll make his debut against Brisbane.
"He didn’t have any sons, he only had daughters, but then my mum loved footy," said Gulden.
With a father born overseas and with little interest in the game, it was left to the rest of the family, especially Gulden’s mother, to feed his football passion.
"She got a footy in my hands from a very young age, and she’s the one that has been driving me," said Gulden.
He later joined the QBE Sydney Swans Academy in under 11s, at the same time as Campbell, and was last year taken by the Swans at pick 32 in the NAB AFL Draft.
Gulden also learned a lot about the game from his brother, Adam, who is 11 years older than Errol and has been a handy player in the NEAFL competition for several seasons and is this year in the Sydney Swans VFL squad.
With the NEAFL cancelled last year, and the Northern Academy Series significantly reduced, the Gulden brothers teamed up at their local club – UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs – to play together for the first time.
Errol said that his brother gave him "plenty of advice and a couple of sprays," but that it was an experience he’ll always cherish especially as he’s now on a different path at an AFL club.
But it isn’t just the boys spreading the Gulden name across footy fields in Sydney. Senna Gulden, Errol’s sister, plays in the Sydney Women's Premier Division.
"I love being able to see my sister play footy, because she enjoys it just as much as I do," said Gulden.
"I know that I wouldn’t be playing footy if it wasn’t for my mum and sister."