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Our unknown zone: Elliott

Sam Gastin  February 8, 2018 8:00 PM

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The town of Elliott already have an AFL team.

They too wear Black and White. But unfortunately there’s a bit of teal thrown in there as well.

Regrettably, this community of around 300 is Port Adelaide loyal. Why It’s the home of Power midfielder Jake Neade.

As Collingwood’s travelling party entered Elliott School, relatives of Neade came from all areas. Some brothers, while others are cousins and nephews. Each and every one was quick to proudly tell the visiting Magpies the story of their famous relation.

Perhaps the most significant member of the Neade family was less forthright. In a prep classroom, his mother helps the youngest pupils at Elliott School with their spelling class.

“She sometimes goes to Adelaide for games, but if she left for good I’d be in trouble,” the main teacher of the class explained.

The classroom facilities in Elliott are impressive. However on Wednesday, these five and six year olds were going back to basics. The lesson for the day is ‘A for Apple’, and as Sam McLarty, Mason Cox, Brody Mihoeck and Flynn Appleby walked in, the distraction of these big, foreign footballers only lasted a few minutes.

The players join in as the class cut and paste coloured paper onto the letter ‘A’.

“Do you like ripping the paper or sticking it?” 19-year-old Appleby asked his five-year-old partner.

“I like sticking,” the young fella in a spiderman hoodie replied.

“That’s good because I like ripping. We’re a team,” said Appleby.

Cox had more to worry about than ripping and sticking. A 211cm frame isn’t meant for pre-school classrooms, and the sight of the American squeezed in at the tiny desk was humorous to say the least.

As was what took place in the following classroom. In front of an older group of students, Cox flicked off his red Nike runners and offered them up to one of the many students with bare feet.

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“I’m a size 16. Are any of y’all a size 16?” the ruckman asked the group.

No one was surprised as every hand in the room stayed down.

After two days of school visits, the backstory behind the man from Dallas, Texas who happens to be the biggest person ever to play AFL, never ceases to amaze the young audience.

Attention also pricks up when McLarty drops his unique piece of information.

“If I take my hearing aid off, I can’t hear anything,” he told classes.

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Students, teachers and Magpies alike descended on the outdoor basketball courts as the bell went to end the day.

Some of the kids mentioned their plans of heading to Newcastle Waters after school for a swim, but no one is leaving until the entire Collingwood group is gone.

For now, the Magpies will have to settle for second place in a town were loyalties clearly lie with Port Adelaide.

It might only be temporary however. With Next Gen Academy links quickly establishing in the region, Collingwood may soon find its own Jake Neade in the town of Elliott, NT.

Previously: CLICK HERE for the story behind our bizarre trip to Newcastle Waters.

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