Grant Cassidy says it was always clear that Adelaide’s Crouch brothers were destined for special things in the AFL world.
Cassidy coached the boys in under-12s at Ballarat Swans, before reuniting with Brad at under-15 level.
The Crouch brothers played the majority of their junior football at Ballarat, before playing a season with Beaufort in the lead-up to their North Ballarat Rebels commitments.
Cassidy recalls two highly-skilled, hard-nosed players that now do exactly as they did at junior level on the AFL stage.
“They stood out, absolutely,” Cassidy said.
“You always knew they were going to be alright, they could always find plenty of the footy.
“Brad just stood out because his skills were fantastic and he was hard at it. And Matt, at the time, he was pretty short and stocky, but he just knocked up getting it, it wouldn’t matter where he was.”
The pair played finals football for the Swans in their under-12 campaign while the under-15s won the premiership, however, Brad missed it with a hamstring injury.
Cassidy said the brothers clearly had a massive influence from their father, Phil, and they brought a urgency and hunger to junior football like few others.
Cassidy, who is no longer involved in football in an official capacity, was stoked to see two genuinely local boys representing Ballarat, not only at the elite level, but on the biggest stage of them all – the MCG’s September stage.
“It’s fantastic, it’s always fantastic when you get a couple of blokes from your club that play AFL for a start and then especially making a grand final. It’s good when the local kids go places.
“A lot of the Rebels’ kids aren’t actually from here, which is fantastic for the Rebels program don’t get me wrong, but it makes it even more special when they’re fair dinkum local lads.”
Other local flavours to the grand final is former Lake Wendouree junior Richmond’s Dan Butler, teammate Shaun Grigg played juniors at Redan while Daniel Rioli also played at a number of local clubs after coming to Ballarat from the Northern Territory in year 9.
Adelaide takes on Richmond in Saturday’s AFL grand final at the MCG.