As a St Kilda supporter growing up in the 2000s, some of Louis Butler’s fondest football memories involved the Western Bulldogs.
Think back to those epic 2009 and 2010 preliminary finals.
“I always loved watching the Bulldogs play the Saints,” Butler, who was selected with pick 53 in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft, told westernbulldogs.com.au.
“Especially back in the 2009 and 2010 finals, that’s some of the most enjoyable footy I’ve watched.”
And perhaps it’s fitting a few players from those finals will help guide him on his journey now as a Bulldog – the likes of skipper Easton Wood, and now coaches Dale Morris, Daniel Giansiracusa and Steven King.
Butler joins the Bulldogs on the back of an impressive underage draft year, where he featured for Victoria Metro, Sandringham Dragons and Brighton Grammar.
Draft day and hearing his name called out was the culmination of years of hard work, but also the start of a new journey.
“My face was in my hands, Mum and Dad were getting around me,” the 18-year-old said.
“It was pretty emotional, but probably the best day of my life.
“I think it’s the challenge… I’ve always loved going to a new level.
“I feel like I’ve done that this year, I’ve had to step up every time I’ve gone into different teams. I feel like playing AFL is another challenge, and that excites me, and I’m looking forward to getting better and getting that respect from my teammates.”
Butler averaged 18 disposals at the 2019 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships and 20.6 disposals in the NAB League, showing his skills primarily as a defender and outside midfielder.
“My strengths, I reckon are my smarts and skills – my basic skills like kicking and my decision making,” he said.
“But I also feel like my running skills can set me apart from others which helps me in games.
“There’s definitely parts to work on in my game, and I’ll be looking to do that when I get to the club and get into work straight away.”
When he walks through the doors, he’ll see at least one familiar face – former Sandringham teammate Bailey Smith.
“To see how Bailey went this year was pretty cool,” Butler said.
“I was bottom age last year and he was top age, so I met him last year and I’ve sounded him out a couple of times this year.
“He gave me a text message to say well done and all that.”