DAVID RODAN had never been to an AFL game at Adelaide Oval until Sunday’s ANZAC Day game between Port Adelaide and St Kilda and he had extra reason to be excited beyond the game day experience.
Rodan has a special bond with Port defender Martin Frederick who made his AFL debut against the Saints.
Frederick was coached as a teenager by Rodan some years ago, after Rodan finished his AFL career, which yielded 185 games for Richmond, Port Adelaide and Melbourne.
The pair rekindled their relationship when Rodan surprised Frederick by presenting him with his AFL guernsey before the game.
“Soon after I retired, I worked full time in the multicultural talent sector in the diversity area and helped with the development of the next generation of talent to get them to the AFL,” Rodan explained to portadelaidefc.com.au.
“I was coach of the “world” team and we got the best multicultural under 15 talent in the country.
“Marty came along from South Australia and we pretty quickly understood he had some serious talent. He had some serious speed and skills and he was very dedicated to playing football at the highest level.
“He won the award for the best player in our academy in our two games against the Indigenous Boomerangs. He was our best player by far and since then I’ve been unofficially been mentoring him and talking to him at different times.”
Rodan described his immense pride at seeing Frederick get his AFL chance, particularly after the 20-year-old was left without a contract late last season and had to wait to confirm his spot on the Port Adelaide list.
“He worked his butt off. At different times I’ve been delisted during my career and I know how that feels,” he said.
“Being able to show your worth and your value, and that you deserve a spot on that list, that’s all credit to him.
“It’s a true sign of his character and how hard that he does work to get this opportunity so hopefully it’s the first of many games he’ll play for this club.”
Frederick was told he would be making his debut by another former Port Adelaide player in Daniel Motlop, who the defender idolised growing up.
Rodan was another of Frederick’s favourites and a photo has emerged of Frederick and his twin brother Michael – now a Fremantle player – with Rodan during his playing days.
“I actually didn’t know that when I coached him so I think he was being quite humble and discreet about it,” Rodan laughed.
“I found out later on when I was speaking with him and he sent me a photo of him and Michael when they were maybe ten.
“It was at the Port Club after a game when I was still playing and they had their Port jumpers on so I didn’t realise til then that I was one of his favourite players but it’s very flattering.”
Frederick finished the game with 23 disposals at 96 per-cent efficiency and looked comfortable at the level.
Rodan was most pleased that he showed his trademark run and carry.
“There was a connection there straight away between us because the way he plays is the way I used to like to play - although he’s a bit faster than I was, which is why they call him Flash – so I just hope he continues to show his strength, which is his speed and his ball use.”
Rodan is now a popular AFL goal umpire but he remains a favourite among Port Adelaide supporters.