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The day Josh Prudden's life changed - twice

New Bulldogs draftee was greeted with almost devastating news minutes after being picked.

CHALPAT SONTI November 29, 2012 11:16am

Our latest AFL hope - Western Bulldogs draftee Josh Prudden at his Seymour home with proud grandparents Maureen and Don on Saturday.


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It was almost, to borrow the famous opening line from A Tale of Two Cities, a case of the best of times and the worst of times for Josh Prudden.

The Seymour 18-year-old had just been picked at number 50 by the Western Bulldogs in the third round of the AFL Draft on Thursday night.

Fresh from that stunning decision, 20 minutes later, his life almost turned upside down again.

‘‘We heard that Dad (Tony) had just been involved in a serious truck accident and was in hospital in Wagga,’’ he said.

‘‘Having a dad that nearly died put it all in a bit of perspective.’’

Tony Prudden was a passenger in the truck which left the road near the NSW town of Temora on Thursday afternoon. He suffered cracked ribs but the driver, Seymour father-of-three Ray Hoy, was killed.

Josh Prudden spoke to his dad briefly after his selection.

‘‘He had a lot of pain-killing drugs and he was pretty out of it but I managed to tell him what had happened.’’

Prudden was still coming to terms on Saturday with how his life had turned upside down by the Draft.

‘‘I was watching it on TV with my grandparents (Don and Maureen) and I wasn’t really paying attention at the time as it was only up to pick 50. I thought if it was going to happen it might be number 100 or something.

‘‘I wasn’t all that confident. I had flights booked to Queensland on the Friday (ironically the Draft was held on the Gold Coast) to stay with an uncle and auntie and I had to cancel them.’’

But there was no doubting the jubilation in the Prudden household.

‘‘Grandma was doing cartwheels, I didn’t think she had it in her and Pa might’ve done a handstand as well. He had to pick his hamstring up off the ground.’’

Making the big time had been a dream ‘‘for ages’’ for the Collingwood fan ‘‘as it is for most of the kids in the Draft’’.

Prudden went down to Whitten Oval on Sunday and will be billeted out with a local family, but will come home at weekends, at least wehn there’s no footy on.

‘‘We were pretty naive about all that — my life changed in an instant,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s not far away but it is the city and I’m more of a country boy and we’re a pretty close family.’’

Prudden was considered an under-the-radar selection but the Bulldogs had shown plenty of interest pre-Draft.

‘‘They were calling me asking if anyone else had spoken to me, but you still never know.’’

Prudden reckoned his Assumption College coach, Bulldogs Brownlow medallist Scott Wynd, might have put in a good word for him as well.

It will also come as little surprise to local football fans. A gifted junior at St Mary’s — ‘‘I started playing when I was nine, I think I was too young, but that was it for me from there’’ — the family had a stint at Cranbourne before returning home.

He did the usual stuff — playing for the Murray Bushrangers and state sides — but he really came of age as a player in Seymour’s giant-killing finals run in the Goulburn Valley Football League this year.

Prudden was no respecter of size or reputation and was one of the stars in a team of stellar performers.

‘‘It was great having team-mates like I did around me. (Willie) Wheeler and (Ben) Clifton were absolute stars and the Colberts and everyone else, the list goes on.’’

And plenty of them — and others — have been quick to pass on their congratulations in the days since.

What’s most impressive about Prudden though is his realisation that he has only taken the first step.

‘‘I’ve been drafted but that’s a long way from getting a game yet.’’

It’s likely he might team up with Wheeler again at the Bulldogs’ VFL feeder Williamstown next season — he had aimed to try out for a few VFL sides had he missed out in the Draft ‘‘and that was all happening after I got my driver’s license’’ — and he’s also hopeful of getting up to watch a few Lions games as well.

Josh’s grandfather Don, grandmother Maureen and father Tony would like to thank everyone locally and further afield who have helped the youngster get this far.

‘‘Many, many thanks, we very much appreciate it,’’ Don Prudden said.

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