THE last time Xavier Mills walked on Princes Park he was a kid living a dream.
He had begged his mum Maryanne to take him to the ground during a trip to Melbourne so he could spend her money on Carlton posters and other paraphernalia to decorate his bedroom.
He sat in the stands dreaming of playing for the Blues at Princes Park. He jumped the fence and had a kick on the famous ground, pretending to be his idol, former Koroit and Blues star Adrian Gleeson.
Tomorrow, while not earning a spot with Carlton, he achieves his dream of playing at the Blues’ home ground with Hampden’s interleague side in the country championships clash against Ovens and Murray.
“When they said it was going to be played there ... I was named an emergency last year (so) I thought I would really try and have a crack this year and get a game so I could play there,” the North Warrnambool Eagles midfielder said yesterday.
The 26-year-old said he had gone to the ground “pretty early on”, when he was “six or seven”.
He did it two or three times “at least”, buying some memorabilia and having a kick on each occasion.
“I reckon I bought a few jumpers. My room was full of Carlton stuff.”
Mills had his father Robert to thank for following Gleeson’s career. The pair played together at Koroit.
The auto electrician said his father had coached him until he was in under 16s, listing him alongside former Eagles coach Leigh McCluskey as the biggest influences on his career. “Leigh McCluskey told me I could play. You always think you can play but he said I was good enough to play on other sides’ best players.”
Mills is excited about his senior interleague debut with the Bottle Greens tomorrow, and not just because he gets to play at Princes Park.
He represented the league at under 18 level in 2004 and finds himself in the green and white tomorrow with a member from that side, Cobden’s Paul Foster.
“Obviously you play football to play at the highest level,” he said.
Mills, who started the year with the Eagles at half-back and going through the midfield, has found himself spending time in the forward line in recent weeks.
Hampden coach Nick O’Sullivan is predicting he will give Mills a role across half-forward tomorrow where he can use his speed to create play in attack and build pressure when defending.
“It should be good,” he said.
“I’ve got a few family members and friends coming down so hopefully I get a kick.”