Richmond forward Kane Lambert is preparing for the biggest game of his AFL career, but has not forgotten the impact so many people have had on his football career to guide him to this point.
Lambert will live out his boyhood dream on Saturday, running out for the Tigers in front of 100,000 people at the MCG on AFL grand final day against the Adelaide Crows.
“It’s pretty awesome at the moment,” Lambert told Star Weekly.
“It’s taking a bit of time to sink in really.
“It’s a little bit surreal.”
Even amid the euphoria of Saturday’s preliminary final win over GWS Giants, Lambert was thankful to so many people who have made a positive impact on his career, in particular the coaches and teammates at the Preston Bullants, Northern Blues and Williamstown.
Having missed out on draft selection following his top age TAC Cup season with the Northern Knights, Lambert made the move to the Victorian Football League, spending three seasons with the Northern Blues.
In his third season with the Blues, Lambert started to blossom into the player he knew that he could be, winning the Fothergill-Round Medal for most promising young player in the league and coming fourth in the JJ Liston Trophy count.
Lambert crossed to Williamstown in 2014 and took his game up to another level.
In late 2015, at the age of 23, Lambert finally got his call-up to the AFL, earning a rookie list spot at Richmond.
Lambert looks back on his time at Williamstown as being crucial in that process.
“I can’t credit enough people who have invested time into me, all the way back to the Preston Bullants, Northern Blues and obviously Williamstown,” he said.
“I’ve got some really close friends at Williamstown, but Andy Collins is a real mentor of mine.
“I’m real fortunate to have had people like him and the Williamstown Football Club in my life to help me get to where I am.”
It is another Williamstown person who Lambert credits with having the most significant impact on his football career.
Seagulls midfielder Adam Marcon is Lambert’s best mate and the pair had parallel careers until 2017.
Both 25 now, they played football and cricket together growing up in Preston, under 18s with the Northern Knights, were teammates at the Northern Blues and Williamstown and both made their way on to Richmond’s list as rookies.
Unfortunately for Marcon, he was delisted by the Tigers at the end of 2016 and moved back to Williamstown, while Lambert has continued to impress in his forward line role for the Tigers.
“He’s probably had the biggest influence on my footy career,” Lambert said.
“It was disappointing that he missed out, but I’m sure he’s living his dream through me now.
“He’s got his life sorted outside of footy.”
Former Spotswood junior Bachar Houli will also run out for Richmond.
Toby Nankervis, who lives in Point Cook, where he spent some of his formative years, will be the Tigers starting ruck and Alex Rance, the son of former Footscray player Murray, will have a presence in defence for the Tigers.
Running out for the Adelaide Crows on Saturday will be Maribyrnong Sports Academy alumnus Rory Atkins. He will be joined by former Western Jets and Werribee Tigers defender Kyle Hartigan and full-back Daniel Talia, who will follow in the footsteps of his grandad Harvey Stevens, who played in Footscray’s 1954 premiership.