Bayside Leader Coverage – Liam Stocker

TWO East Sandringham Junior Football Club old boys met on the stage at the AFL national draft at Marvel Stadium last night.

One was Brownlow Medal great Chris Judd. The other was 18-year-old Liam Stocker.

In his role as a Carlton director, Judd presented a Blues jumper to Sandringham Dragons graduate Stocker after the club selected him at No 19.

In a live-trading first, the Blues had pushed through an exchange of 2019 first-round picks with the Adelaide Crows to stock up on Stocker.


Liam Stocker in a Carlton strip.

It was a buzz for the midfielder to shake on it with Judd, whom he described as “a hero of my footy journey … I’ve watched a lot of his footy’’.

“He was also an East Sandringham legend which is where I played my club footy, so that was really, really special,’’ he said.



Dragons talent manager Ryan O’Connor appreciated the local connection too, and saw it as a “passing of the baton’’.

Three years ago Stocker was presented with East Sandy’s Chris Judd Perpetual Trophy, recognising “most outstanding junior achievement’’.

The former Haileybury College student went into the draft rated as one of the best midfielders after a fine 2018 TAC Cup season highlighted by his victory in the Morrish Medal. He averaged 23 disposals and five tackles per game.

It was enough for the Blues to claim him despite him missing the Under 18 national championships with a broken jaw.

“I had a very, very good support network around me at Sandringham,’’ Stocker said of the injury.

“They really provided the best base for me to jump off…’’

Liam Stocker gets busy for the Sandringham Dragons.

Carlton list chief Steve Silvagni said the club rated Stocker highly and completed the pick swap to secure him.

“We think we’ve got a really good player through our door,’’ he said.

“He’s highly competitive, he’s got some real power. Hasn’t played a lot of footy this year but we add to our midfield depth.

“We just rated Liam. We certainly rated him highly and he was there to be got. It was worthwhile sliding our first-round picks next year.’’

Stocker’s family shifted to Beijing when he was four months old and returned to Australia in 2010.

“I do remember kicking the footy on the concrete in Hong Kong,” the 183cm midfielder said.

“But I always thought of footy as the Australian game and I never really thought I was coming back to Australia.

“I never really considered it until I had to make friends when I first came over here, so footy was the first option.

“I think I was in love with it from Hong Kong but never really had the opportunity to play it.



Liam Stocker with the Chris Judd Perpetual Trophy

Stocker is also an accomplished cricketer, making a First XI debut for Sub-District club Brighton last season. He was also a leading all-rounder for Haileybury College.

His father, Russell, is secretary of the Tonners.

Stocker senior said this morning that his son was a proud product of East Sandringham juniors, where he had been given great guidance in particular by Ryan Murphy (the uncle of Collingwood’s Nathan).

With Max and Ben King also being drafted last night, the Zebbies — once described by former president John Hine as a “football factory’’ — had three of their past players in the first round.