Three North Ballarat Rebels pursue AFL glory

THREE North Ballarat Rebels from across Western Victoria will pursue their AFL dreams in three states.

Michael Close, Tanner Smith and Martin Gleeson will embark on AFL careers after being selected in last night’s national draft on the Gold Coast.

Close went at pick 32, Tanner Smith pick 36 and Martin Gleeson at 53.

Their football journeys will be:

Close (Harrow): from Harrow Balmoral in the Horsham District league to Brisbane Lions.

Smith (Horsham): from Kalkee in the Horsham District league to Fremantle.

Gleeson (Koroit): from Koroit in the Hampden league to Essendon.

All three attended St Patrick’s College in Ballarat this year, playing in the MCC Herald Sun Shield grand final-winning team and representing Vic Country in the national under-18 championships.

Close, 18, said he had been caught by surprise when his name was called earlier than expected.

“I wasn’t really concentrating,” he said.

“It’s an amazing feeling.”

Close said Brisbane had shown plenty of interest in him leading into the draft.

Gleeson, 18, said it was awesome to be going to a great club.

“I was happy to go anywhere,” he said.

“It was around the mark I thought it would be if I was drafted,” he said.

Gleeson said the excitement had gone to a different level after talking to coach James Hird after his selection.

He will fly to the Gold Coast on Sunday for a training camp.