McLean caps off an amazing year
It’s been some kind of year for Toby McLean.
Standing in the middle of Etihad Stadium with a Premiership Medal and the TAC Medal for his best on ground performance around his neck, McLean couldn’t believe it.
What could have been a story of almost making it had turned into one of outstanding achievements. But this is no magical fairy-tale, McLean’s story highlights what hard work and determination can do.
It is well documented that McLean, the boy from Narre Warren, was cut from the Dandenong Stingrays preseason training squad at the start of the year.
He was given a second chance by Oakleigh Chargers, an invitation from Mark Smart to trial with the squad. There were no guarantees, just an opportunity; the rest was up to McLean.
The 179cm forward made an impression, with the Chargers playing him in preseason trail matches and eventually adding him the list as he continued to improve.
McLean went on to not only play every game this season for the Chargers, he became a key contributor, leading the Chargers goal kicking with 32 goals.
His brilliant season was recognised when he finished runner up to Alex Carr in the Morrish Medal by just 3 votes.
In Round 14 he took what many judged to be the TAC Cup Mark of the Year when he launched himself in the goal square and had the perfect sit on his Northern Knights opponent. Footage of his massive hanger went viral across the internet, all of a sudden the football world was talking about Toby McLean.
After sitting on top of the TAC Cup ladder for the majority of the year, Oakleigh slipped in the final rounds allowing Calder to take out the minor premiership. Many observers thought that this slide would continue, but McLean and his team mates had other ideas.
Watching McLean in the finals, you would think that he had spent years within the junior talent pathway and Oakleigh program, his performances on the big stages were simply outstanding.
After a shaky start the Chargers dominated the Grand Final, McLean leading the way with 21 disposals, 9 marks and 2 goals, a worthy winner of the TAC Medal.
With natural x-factor and an aptitude for development, there is still plenty of upside for McLean. He heads to the NAB Draft Combine in the coming weeks, hoping to improve on his testing from earlier in the year when he was new to Chargers program and not at his fittest.
The Toby McLean story is one that’s certain to be continued.
Watch below highlights of McLean in the Grand Final: