It is not everyday you get to grace the hallowed turf of Etihad Stadium, but a dozen Katamatite junior footballers had the chance last month.
After making the trek to Melbourne via train or car, 12 of the Tigers’ budding stars were led onto ground by Clinton Burkitt at half-time during the clash between Essendon and North Melbourne.
‘‘It was a great experience, the kids are still buzzing and it is a memory that will last with them forever,’’ Burkitt said.
‘‘I did it when I was in Grade 5 at Invergordon and the game with Fitzroy is etched into my brain.’’
With more than 25 Auskick children registered at the Tigers and a grid game only requiring 12 players, Burkitt had to make the tough call.
‘‘It worked out fine in the end, we just got the 12 oldest players, of course we would have loved to have everyone, but unfortunately we couldn’t,’’ Burkitt said.
The Tigers run out on Etihad every second year, as has been the case for the past decade.
‘‘Hopefully in a few years the kids that missed out will get the opportunity to experience what the children just did,’’ Burkitt said.
‘‘From arriving at the ground early, being escorted to our seats, taken to the change rooms and down the players race, the whole group absolutely loved it.’’
Burkitt has been coaching since the start of this year and it is a love-hate relationship for the footballer.
‘‘On a Thursday night the kids are yelling, screaming and driving me crazy, but I absolutely love seeing the smiles on there face when they are running around a kicking a footy,’’ Burkitt said.