By JESS WEBSTER
Aspley Hornets has secured one of the biggest signings in club history with former North Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow committing to the club for the 2018 NEAFL season.
Swallow, 30, retired from the Kangaroos this year after 224 games, including three Syd Barker Medals and captaining the side from 2012-2016.
His strong friendship with Hornets co-captain Ben Warren – who played 29 games with North Melbourne while on the club’s list from 2006-2012 – lured Swallow to the club after his family was keen for a change of scenery.
Swallow told neafl.com.au he is excited at beginning a new chapter of his football career with Aspley.
“We were looking for a move out of Melbourne and we were looking for some warmer weather and a change of lifestyle,” he said.
“(Brother) David is about to have a child at the end of February so ideally it would have been great to go to Gold Coast, but when things fell through… we still thought of a move out of Melbourne.
“Speaking to other clubs, they all sounded like they had great opportunities. But having Ben at Aspley – and his wife and my wife are really good friends – it makes that transition to a new club really easy.
“I’d love the opportunity to play with him again. He came to North Melbourne in my second year and we’ve been really close since then.
“I thought, if you’re going to move up there, why not play footy with one of your best mates?”
Swallow will form a strong midfield contingent next year, which includes two-time NEAFL MVP winner Matt Payne and former Melbourne ruckman Jake Spencer, while the club has also recruited former Brisbane forward Jono Freeman this off-season.
With an eye on moving into a coaching role in the future, Swallow – who will be based on the Gold Coast – said he is eager to learn off Aspley coach and AFLQ Hall of Famer, John Blair.
“Being able to still play footy at a high level, but not be as full on and serious as the AFL, I think that would be really good,” Swallow said.
“I’m also looking forward to doing a bit of coaching and helping the younger guys. I think it will challenge me and open my eyes up to the world of coaching.
“I’ve caught up with him (Blair) a couple of times, and after only two brief chats you realise how good he is at building great relationships with his players.
“I’m sure, just from that point of view, I’d learn a lot from him, and then there is obviously all the other aspects of coaching to explore. I’m excited to spend the year underneath him.”
Aspley Football Manager, Mark Perkins, said the club is delighted to acquire the services of Swallow.
“We are over the moon to have a player of his stature in the game come to our club,” he said.
“Not often you get a former AFL captain make himself available and we are really looking forward to Andrew, Elise, Isabelle and Jude joining the Hornets.
“He will give us a lot both on and off the field and his experience and leadership will be a great asset for our entire list.”
Swallow is expected to move to Queensland later this month and begin training with the Hornets in the New Year.
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