Emerging Swans midfield star Tom Mitchell is hoping for a change of AFL finals fortunes for his family when Sydney host North Melbourne on Saturday.
Tom’s father Barry never experienced a finals win in six matches, four with the Swans in 1986 and 1987, and two more with Carlton in 1994.
“Hopefully we can get a win this weekend and I can an get one up on him,” Tom Mitchell quipped.
Tom does have one win in three finals appearances with the Swans, but it’s hardly surprising he doesn’t really count that.
“I got injured earlier in the game,” said Mitchell, who touched the ball just three times in a 2013 semi-final win over Carlton before a first quarter ankle injury kept him out of the remainder of the game.
The second generation Mitchell is part of a contingent of Swans youngsters making their presence felt as the club battles to deal with late season injuries to several senior players.
Despite the widespread perception of Sydney being a veteran side, the team for last Saturday’s qualifying final included seven players with 51 or fewer senior games, with six of those men aged 22 or under.
“We have a lot of experienced players who aren’t playing this week, so it’s a good opportunity for the younger guys to play in what’s going to be a really high intense game and show that they are capable of playing at that level,” Mitchell said.
“I think a lot of the young guys have proven they are able to do that this year.”
Mitchell said the youngsters were being helped by veterans including fullback Ted Richards, who on Tuesday signed a one-year contract extension which will take him into a 15th AFL campaign next season.
“Jarrad McVeigh, Ted Richards, Adam Goodes have played over 20 finals so I think talking to those about their experiences helps you,” Mitchell said.
“You feed off those guys a little bit and learn off them how you can go about things.”
Mitchell has played in 18 out of Sydney’s last 19 games and is averaging 27 disposals per match this season.
He attributes his breakout year to finally getting a full pre-season under his belt after being affected by injuries in the leadup to previous campaigns.
“I feel a lot fitter now and I think that’s probably the main thing I’ve been able to take into my games this year and just run out games a lot better,” Mitchell said.
Fitness apart, Mitchell has also shown he can supplement his undoubted ball getting ability with an increased responsibility in the defensive side of his game.
“It’s been a really good opportunity this year being able to play on some of the best players in the competition, whether it be Sam Mitchell or Travis Boak or Joel Selwood,” Mitchell said.
“It’s really been good to try and stop those players, as hard as it is, but really learn from them.”