You support Carlton and you hate Collingwood.

It has been five losses straight by your Blues to the dreaded Magpies and you watch with thinly-veiled disgust after the final siren as the players from both sides happily mill around, catching up like long lost mates.

The reason for that is because in many cases, that’s precisely what they are.

Footballers are like a brotherhood and at Etihad Stadium on Friday, the ties that bind a new brotherhood were cast in stone at the final day of the 2011 NAB AFL Draft Combine.

It is why Bradley Hill, the winner of both the beep test and the time trial at the Combine, could walk off Etihad for the final time chatting animatedly to Ahmed Saad as though he was his best buddy.

Hill, the younger brother of Fremantle jet Stephen, is 18 and from Joondalup in the boom northern suburbs of Perth. Saad is four years older and played his footy at Roxburgh Park, a new northern suburb in Melbourne. And he grew up in Egypt.

For the class of 2011, a morning replete with more individual testing, in this case psychomotor testing, was followed in the afternoon by the time trial. And with that, 120 aspiring League footballers had completed what AFL talent manager Kevin Sheehan called “the longest job interview in Australian sport.”

Shortly after the last of the players had completed the time trial, they were gathered as a group on the city wing (or as was more appropriate, on the wooden sprinting track) for a farewell of sorts from Sheehan.

At first, they sat down as requested, like the (mainly compliant) schoolboys that they still are. Then when asked by the floor manager from the TV broadcaster to stand up, they did so, with a bit more grumbling, like the grown men they are soon to become.

Sheehan congratulated them on their efforts over the last four days and reminded them that their football seasons, at long last, were over. “Put your feet up and take a well-earned break,” he told them. “And for those about to do exams, make sure you get stuck into those.”

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

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