Mason Blakey has become an important part of Northern Blues team. (PHOTO CREDIT: James Ross)
THE learning curve can be steep for young defenders making their way in the VFL, as Mason Blakey knows well.
Blakey has played on AFL forwards including Collingwood duo Alex Fasolo and Jamie Elliot, overcome a broken hand and been elected one of Northern Blues’ vice-captains in just over a year with the club.
The former Northern Knights captain has shown maturity well beyond his 19 years, taking each challenge in his stride.
“That’s an unbelievable learning experience playing against players like that,” Blakey said.
“Some of them are A Grade AFL footballers.
“Every now and then you get a touch up from them, but you learn a lot from how they go about it and what they do.”
A product of St Mary’s Greensborough Junior Football Club, and aligned with Northern Football League club Heidelberg, Blakey made a strong impression in his debut campaign despite missing four months due to injury.
The Plenty resident managed six VFL matches in 2017 and was crowned best clubman after his first season in navy blue.
“I am someone who tries to involve myself as much as I can through the footy club, and I was able to do that last year,” he said.
— Local Footy (@localfooty) May 14, 2018
“Instead of being nervous and not really knowing my place, they really welcomed us to be who we were.”
Blakey, the nephew of Sydney assistant coach of former Fitzroy and North Melbourne player John Blakey, said he was “rapt” to be named one of the Blues’ three vice-captains this year alongside fellow young guns Marcus Stavrou and Kane Keppel.
“There’s been a big emphasis in the last 2-3 years, just trying to get some of the younger boys to become leaders and have a bit more of a voice,” he said.
“It’s definitely something, alongside (Kane Keppel) and (Marcus Stavrou) that we have taken on board ourselves, trying to get a bit more involved and take our games and our leadership to the next level.”
Introducing our three new vice-captains for 2018: Mason Blakey, Kane Keppel and Marcus Stavrou!
— Northern Blues FC (@NBluesFC) April 5, 2018
A mid-sized defender listed at 183cm and 76kg, Blakey still harbours ambitions of reaching the top level.
He said he had been buoyed by the transition of reigning VFL best and fairest Cam O’Shea from Northern Blues to the Carlton list and had sought advice from other AFL players such as fellow backman Sam Rowe.
“We have tried to get a bigger emphasis on combining the two clubs together,” Blakey said.
“We have gone out to dinner with them a few times and done some really good things to bond with them.
“(To) learn a bit more about what they do and how they got to where they have got to, it’s definitely been a great thing.”
Blakey said he had enjoyed the influx of former Northern Knights to the club this year, headlined by Alex Federico, Ethan Penrith and Matthew Harman.
“A few of them like Federico, Harman and Ethan Penrith have just slotted in perfectly to our club and the way we play,” he said.
“It’s testament to the Knights and how they go about things.”