SOMETIMES there’s a bit of fanfare when players find out about their first game, others prefer things to be a little more low-key.
Ben Paton was informed he would be making his debut by St Kilda captain Jarryn Geary on Wednesday afternoon, but the skipper had a little fun in the process.
Interrupting a post-training basketball game, Geary took Paton aside and challenged him one-on-one.
“How many times have you been an emergency?” he asked.
“10? Tell, you what, if I get this in, you’re playing on the weekend.”
Unfortunately for Geary, his shot clanked.
“Ah, I wish I’d hit that,” he said.
“Don’t worry, you’re playing anyway.”
Taken with the 46th pick in the AFL draft last year, Paton has had to bide his time to get into the senior side.
His case for selection became too pressing to ignore after impressing time after time at VFL level for Sandringham.
Paton’s father Steve said he was thrilled Ben had finally broken into the AFL.
“I’m absolutely rapt for him,” he said.
“His form in the VFL has been very consistent, he’s been knocking on the door for a while.
“In life, I think the more you earn things, the more you respect them.”
Outgoing North Albury coach Clint Gilson said Paton quickly established himself as a hard worker when he was with the Mountain Men.
Paton won a senior best and fairest at Mitta as a 16-year-old in 2015, before going on to bigger things as an over age player with the Murray Bushrangers in 2017.
He was ultimately selected in the under-18 All-Australian team.
“It’s really exciting for him,” Gilson said.
“We had a pretty fair team the year he won the best and fairest, he played on ball all year and more than held his own.
“He’s pretty quiet and was always a hard worker, even as a kid he made sure he did everything right.
“You could tell he was keen to get the best out of his footy.”
Gilson said Paton would have had no qualms about working his way into his AFL debut.
“Knowing Ben, he would have been head down, bum up,” he said.
“He’s obviously been playing some pretty good footy, so it’s very well deserved.”
Paton will be the seventh player to make their debut for the Saints this season when he runs out against the Essendon Bombers on Friday night.