REIGNING AFL premier Richmond has dubbed Ballarat cub Blake Dridan “The Difference”.
Blake was a special call-up for a Tigers’ closed training session leading into finals last season – the day after Tigers’ superstar Dustin Martin signed a record deal.
The Tigers were quick to make sure they had “The Difference” close by as they set out on a new finals campaign this weekend.
Blake and his dad Luke had seats for the Tigers’ 31-point qualifying final win against Hawthorn at the MCG on Friday night.
To ensure Blake knew how much he is an integral part of the Tigers’ finals campaign, the club sent him a pre-match video featuring all Blake’s special moments with players, coaches and his time about Punt Road.
Luke Dridan said the Tigers have been “nothing short of spectacular” to Blake, who was diagnosed with a blood cancer in November 2016.
Blake has severe aplastic anaemia, a cancer with which the body fails to produce enough blood cells. It is the same cancer Maddie Riewoldt – cousin of Tiger Jack Riewoldt and sister of former St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt – battled for five years before she died in 2015.
The Tigers invited Blake to walk through a guard of honour with Jack Riewoldt in Maddie’s Match in late July.
Blake underwent a bone marrow transplant in March last year but his condition since has been a dramatic rollercoaster. He has no immune system, so even the seemingly simplest outings can turn dangerous fast.
But his Tigers have kept a close watch on Blake, checking in with him through the year.
Mr Dridan quipped “The Difference” helped the Tigers get the job done again as the club advances straight into a preliminary final in a fortnight’s time.
He hoped Blake could provide the Tigers with another gear when the going gets tough over the next month – just as they had done for Blake.
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