Premier Cricket allrounder Brad Melville links with Richmond’s VFL team
Richmond’s VFL squad for 2021 includes a string of promising players from the ranks of country football.
February 16, 2021 - 10:00AM
Brad Melville’s sporting focus has switched.
For a few years it was on cricket, and it took him through elite state pathways and on to Victorian Premier level.
Now it’s on football, and he’s linked with Richmond for the expanded 2021 VFL competition.
The 22-year-old is taking a spell from wicket-taking and run-making after combining both sports 12 months ago, with some difficulty.
Melville was playing with the strong Melbourne Cricket Club while training with the VFL Tigers.
“It got a bit too much come February, March, and all the training was on the same night,’’ he said.
“It really didn’t work for me. There were games last season where I wasn’t needed with bat or ball so I sort of stayed in the First XI for a fair while and probably didn’t need to train too much to be honest, but I thought I’d have this season off and put everything into footy and see where that goes.
“I’m a little bit more passionate about footy now … probably hadn’t enjoyed my cricket as much in the past couple of seasons, whereas I’ve really enjoyed my footy and done everything I could to improve it.’’
From Wangaratta, Melville, a middle-order batsman and off-spinner, was a Victorian Under 15 selection and a state Under 17 and Under 19 representative after he chose to concentrate on cricket.
Playing for North East Knights, he cracked centuries in the Youth Premier League at Under 14 and then Under 16 level, marking him out as a going-places player.
Melbourne never misses a good prospect, and in his first full season with the Demons he made his First XI debut in 2016-17.
“When I was younger I had to make a decision about what I wanted to do, and cricket was my main ambition then,’’ he said.
Still, he was an accomplished footballer for Wangaratta Magpies, playing his first senior game when he was 16. No wonder the Murray Bushrangers made contact.
Melville figured in the club’s Ovens and Murray premiership under the coaching of Dean Stone in 2017, former Demon Michael Newton bagging eight goals in the victory over Albury.
He came to appreciate the flag more when grand final losses followed in 2018 and ‘19.
Kicking 31 goals in 2019, Melville came to the notice of VFL clubs.
“I had a bit of interest, mainly from Werribee to start with, then Richmond and the Northern Blues,’’ he said.
“I’m living in Caulfield so I made the decision to go to Richmond. It’s probably the team closest to me.’’
It didn’t hurt Richmond that he’s a Tigers supporter.
Melville was on the list for the 2020 season that never heard a siren.
Since then the Tigers have been forced to pull back on their VFL program due to costs.
Their list will smaller than in 2019 – but topped up by players from the Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers – and training will be held once a week.
Some of their more experienced players have moved on, including Jacob Ballard, Hugh Beasley and Daniel Coffield, but 2019 premiership captain Steve Morris has returned.
Melville said he was out to play “as many games as possible’’ in the VFL.
“My expectations aren’t too high,’’ he said.
“It’s only my second pre-season so I haven’t been in the system too long … I’m looking to play at Richmond as much as I can and if not play as good as footy as I can for ‘Wang’.
“Being with an AFL club it’s hard to predict how many games you’ll play or where you see yourself for Round 1, but I’ll do everything I can and do everything right.’’
Melville will retain the Magpies as his home club – they have recruited former Collingwood tall Ben Reid and Abraham Ankers from the NT and brought back Stone as coach following the departure of Luke Morgan – and will train with other Melbourne-based players at Collegians.
There will be a country flavour to the VFL Tigers this year; Leongatha’s Cam Olden and Seymour pair Dylan Cook and Sam Durham have also joined the club, and Nathan Oakes, originally from Nathalia, and Angus Hicks, from Shepparton, have returned to Punt Rd.
In his first year of senior football in 2019, Olden played in Leongatha’s grand final team.
Gatha coach Paul Carbis, a former Casey VFL assistant, believes the onballer is a player to watch.