Tim Membrey’s fall to pick 47 in the 2012 draft came as a surprise to many who had followed the Gippsland Power product’s form throughout his TAC Cup season. A hard-at-it goalkicker, Membrey first took the eye of AFL recruiters when he kicked 8.2 in a preliminary final on the back of limited training owing to injury. An excellent set shot for goal, the young forward seemed destined for big things.
However, lack of form and opportunity led to a frustrating two-year wait to make his AFL debut for Sydney, which came late in 2014 when he was called up as a replacement for injured superstar Lance Franklin. Made to bide his time in the NEAFL, Membrey developed into a consistent third tall for Sydney’s reserves, kicking 48 goals in 17 games in 2014.
At the end of 2014, Membrey requested a trade from the Swans, citing limited game time given the team’s plethora of talented forwards. At the same time, newly appointed St Kilda coach Alan Richardson realised the need for a genuine third tall to fill a hole in the Saints’ list, and had no hesitation in recruiting Membrey.
Membrey has had a relatively quiet start to his third pre-season, playing in both the Saints’ NAB Challenge games and kicking two goals. However, it is his potential that will have Saints fans excited this season. The lack of a genuine third tall forward has been a glaring hole in the Saints’ list for several years. Numerous players were tried in the position in 2014, including Tom Lee, Spencer White and Josh Bruce, but none really had a great effect. This left stalwart captain Nick Riewoldt to shoulder the goalkicking load for yet another season.
Membrey’s inclusion in the squad gives the Saints a much more flexible forward 50, and will help alleviate much of the pressure from Riewoldt. His presence gives the forward line a much more dynamic look – with the likes of impressive first-year player Jack Lonie, and crumbers Darren Minchington, Ahmed Saad and Adam Schneider at his feet, the Saints should find improved avenues to goal this season. Membrey’s presence may also assist Bruce, Lee and White in finding their form, with the three aforementioned allowed more space to roam up the ground, and command less attention from opposition defenders.
While still young, and inexperienced at AFL level, the Saints will be hoping Membrey can kick between 20-30 goals this year. Doing so would go a long way to helping the Saints improve on their poor scoring efficiency of last season. With number one draft pick Paddy McCartin, White, Bruce and Lee to rotate through the Saints’ forward line at different stages this season, the Saints will have a very different-looking forward line to previous years. The Saints will be hoping Membrey can turn his good form at NEAFL level into consistent AFL form, as he has all the tools to become a very successful forward.