Cassidy Parish’s VFL debut has been a long time coming.
As the best-and-fairest winner in the Geelong Falcons’ 2018 premiership side, Parish arrived at Werribee as perhaps the most highly touted of its new crop of TAC Cup graduates.
Given he had previously been considered a strong chance to follow in the footsteps of older brother and Essendon midfielder Darcy and be taken at the AFL Draft, the now 19-year-old seemed a prime candidate for an early-season opportunity as 23rd player when he ultimately landed at Avalon Airport Oval.
But Werribee senior coach John Lamont said Parish’s position as a genuine on-baller meant it was always going to be difficult for him to crack into Werribee’s well-established and highly experienced midfield group.
“He probably had a tough pre-season in terms of high expectations of getting drafted, and then things are pretty competitive in our midfield group, and he’s a genuine midfielder,” Lamont said of Parish.
“At 190cm, he’s got good size, but he hasn’t really played anywhere other than as an inside mid, so it just meant other guys got opportunities before him as 23rd player.”
After weeks of knocking on the door, Parish has finally banged it down and will now get his chance for Werribee when it hosts old foe Port Melbourne on Saturday.
He has consistently produced strong performances for Geelong Football League side Grovedale this year, but the former Winchelsea junior really underlined his credentials in the two AFL Victoria Young Guns games in May, on both occasions being named among the standout players for the Vic Country side.
Lamont said he was now looking forward to seeing the impact Parish can have through the midfield against the Borough.
“He’s been playing some pretty good football at Grovedale under Simon Riddoch, who was a coach here, and he’s had two pretty good Young Guns games where he won a bit of the ball, so he now gets an opportunity to strut his stuff in the VFL,” said Lamont.
“We’re hopeful he can combine well with the likes of Dom Brew, Ben Moloney, Kurt Aylett, and Tom Gribble and learn off those guys and give a really solid contribution for us.”
Parish and the rest of the Werribee side kick off against Port Melbourne on Saturday at 3pm at Avalon Airport Oval.