When Burnie coach Clint Proctor sat next to a man of similar build to AFL giant Aaron Sandilands on a plane trip to Tasmania on Monday morning, he knew he had no option but to sign him up. By that afternoon 209cm ruckman Blake Charles was the Dockers’ latest recruit.
“We were sitting in the emergency exit aisle and his knees were still touching the seat in front of him and I looked like a midget,” Proctor said with a laugh. “But eventually we started to talk and I found out he was moving here. “It was quite a coincidence. Maybe it was meant to be – I’m not sure. “All I know is that his height appealed to me and I had to ask the question.” Charles was born in Latrobe. His parents relocated and he was raised in the western suburbs of Melbourne, where he was classed to be “too big” for Auskick aged just six. On a fleeting visit back to the North-West Coast recently to visit family, he made the decision to move here because he said it felt like home. The 18-year-old has never played Aussie rules at an elite level previously but he is keen to test himself at West Park. He won a premiership with Braybrook Football Club in division 3 of the Western Region Football League last season. “I don’t really know much about the club but my uncle played here not long ago and my grandfather played with Burnie years ago too,” Charles, who penned a one-year deal, said. “Basketball [for Latrobe] is my number one priority but I’m pretty keen to see how far I can take both.” Charles received a baptism of fire at his first training session on Monday night when he joined in on the club’s 14km time trial. But despite his size and possible potential, Proctor said there would be no expectations placed on Charles, labelling him a project player. “We’d like to think he’d play NTFL after a bit of development and from there if he can get his fitness up, because he’s a long way off at the moment, maybe we’ll think of him as a State League player,” Proctor said.
“He’s coming from a long way back though. We’ve already been going for a month now. “We’ll put some work into him behind the scenes with [first-choice ruckman] Jason [Laycock] and hopefully in two or three years’ time he can develop into a consistent State League player, because he’d be a handful if he could.”
Source: The Advocate Newspaper, December 18, 2014. Journalist Jordan Abel.