K rock Football

Good mates join Bombers

Mia Van Dyke in action for the Geelong Falcons. (Geelong Falcons Image/Kelvin Gray)

GOOD mates Mia van Dyke and Ash van Loon will start their AFLW journey together after Essendon selected the Geelong Falcons pair in Wednesday night’s AFLW Draft.

The expansion club used pick 46 to grab van Dyke, while van Loon will head to The Hangar after hearing her name called at 73.

Van Dyke, who finished eighth in the Falcons’ best-and-fairest after being shifted to a new role in defence, further enhanced her draft prospects with an impressive run of games in Geelong’s VFLW team.

The 17-year-old St Joseph’s product made seven appearances for the Cats, including their elimination final loss to eventual grand finalists Southern Saints.

“At the Falcons, going into a new position in defence, I was getting into the mix of it all,” van Dyke, who attends Sacred Heart College, said.

“In the VFL, I felt like I showed more of my strengths; my run and carry, and I felt like I developed so much in such a small amount of time against the bigger bodies.

“Also, the culture of the Geelong VFLW squad; (they were) so welcoming, and that helped me so much.”

Ash Van Loon in action for the Geelong Falcons in last year’s NAB League Girls Grand Final. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

For van Loon, the first half of 2022 has been frustrating, with injuries limiting her appearances.

The St Mary’s product was restricted to just six NAB League Girls games due to a knee injury before suffering an ankle issue in the Falcons’ Country final loss to Dandenong.

That cost van Loon a chance to press her draft claims at VFLW level with Geelong.

Despite her limited appearances, Essendon had been in touch with the Year 12 St Ignatius College student.

“I was quite nervous going into this draft with the interruptions I’ve had with my year, so I didn’t have any expectations,” van Loon said.

“It’s been quite challenging, and I’m so overjoyed and happy to get some reward for all the hard work over the years at (the) Falcons.

“I’m just really, really happy.”

van Dyke, whose grandfather Mervyn Williams played seven VFL games with North Melbourne and reserves at Essendon in the 1950s.

As well as van Loon, she will also link up at the Bombers with former Falcon Renee Tierney, Geelong VFL teammate Paige Scott, and fellow Vic Country representative Amber Clarke.

“It’s really good to know some faces,” van Dyke said.

“But, also, getting to know some new faces would be so cool as well.”

van Loon is excited by the prospect of being part of history at Essendon.

“It’s great to be part of it from the beginning,” she said. “With new coaches, new players, no expectation; you just go in there.

“And it’s going to make everyone jell a lot stronger.

“It’ll be interesting, and I’m excited. I don’t really know what to expect, so (I’m) looking forward to it.”

Twitter: @tom_king79