In running out onto the MCG on Anzac Day, Essendon debutant Ben McNiece becomes the 107th Old Paradian known to have played senior League football in the 119 years since Tom Fogarty first turned out for St Kilda in 1898.
Twenty-five year-old Ben, a final year student of Parade in 2009, was a member of the College’s last 1st XVIII premiership team in that year. A cricketer of high distinction, Ben, whose mother is of Indian origin, was also a member of Victoria’s 2nd XI squad.
Parade College teacher Craig Seckold recalled that the mature-age rookie was a highly-regarded footballer with Northern Knights and, later Northcote Park, before furthering his playing career at Essendon.
The poignancy of the occasion will not be lost on Ben, whose grandfather, a pilot with the Royal Air Force spared the call-up when World War II ended.
At Essendon, he follows in the footsteps of Old Paradians Mark “Hummer” Shea, Paddy Shea, Andrew Fogarty, Joseph Fogarty, Jack Garden, Blake Caracella and Ricky Dyson.