AFTER a stellar year in which he picked up a TAC Cup premiership, Oakleigh Chargers defender Jason Ashby can now call himself an AFL-listed player.
After being overlooked for Vic Metro, and then claiming the TAC Cup with the Chargers just two months ago, Ashby was snapped up by Essendon with pick 34 in Thursday's AFL draft.
"It's surreal. I'm really excited, " said Ashby, who was at home with his family while the draft was happening on the Gold Coast.
On a night when dreams are made and broken, the running half-back who grew up barracking for Richmond insisted he wasn't too nervous. But the emotions spilled over when his name was called out.
"Everyone just lost it, screaming. All the neighbours flocked in and all the boys were at a mate's house close by and they walked across, which I didn't even know about.
"I just hope I can just get in there [at Essendon] and improve and become a seasoned AFL footballer."
Jason's father, Scott, was delighted, especially now his son will stay close to home. "I've been very lucky to have the journey with him and it's good to see him get there after all his hard work," he said.
Ashby isn't the only Charger heading to the AFL. Balwyn's Jackson Macrae was taken by the Western Bulldogs at pick six and Kristian Jaksch heads to GWS at pick 12.
Both Macrae and Jaksch were invited up to the Gold Coast for the draft, and Macrae said he was glad he didn't have to wait long before hearing his name.
"But I'm still going to go about my footy the same way, whether I was pick 100 or pick six."
Jaksch could barely contain his excitement at joining the AFL's newest team and will move to Sydney within days.
"If you're going to move interstate GWS is probably one of the best.
"I'm just excited to be a part of something up and coming."