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by Nick Brown (Twitter: @nickbbrown)

MITCH Honeychurch is a young footballer on the rise.

The Eastern Ranges midfielder capped off a brilliant NAB AFL Under-18s Championship by being named Vic Metro’s Most Valuable Player and earning All-Australian honours.

The 18-year-old is one step closer to his dream of being drafted to the AFL, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing.

In a true testament to Honeychurch’s resilience and character, he’s had to overcome major hurdles to get to where he is today.

This attitude and display of mental toughness has earned him the respect of many. And prompted possibly his biggest fan to say ‘we are just so proud of him,’ those being the words of his father Rod.

During the Ranges’ season opener against the Oakleigh Chargers, Honeychurch landed awkwardly on his arm.

‘Straight away I knew I had done some damage to it, I was pretty distraught,’ he said bluntly.

His determination was on show for all, as he pushed the medical staff away in a bid to convince himself more than anyone he was right to keep playing.

‘I came off the ground and I thought the worst. I just thought to myself “this can’t be happening, not again”. That’s when the tears started,’ he recalled.

He was taken to Richmond’s Epworth hospital, where doctors delivered the bad news that he would be watching from the sidelines for at least four to six weeks with a broken radius.

‘Once I was told I had broken my radius, it had dampened my thoughts a bit, because I had been through it all before when I broke my scaphoid,’ he said.

The Ranges put his mobile number on the board in the rooms and every one of his teammates had sent him a message or called him.

Those messages of support and encouragement mostly read “keep your head up Mitch” and “You’ve shown you can come back from this before, you’ll be right”.

Small messages in size, but they played an enormous part in lifting the spirits of their injured teammate and helping him make his second comeback in less than a six-month period.

That comeback came in Round 7, when Honeychurch took to the field against the Gippsland Power.

The next week, Honeychurch booted four goals in a best on ground effort. Not only had he delivered the biggest comeback story of the season, he had been selected for Vic Metro in the under-18 championships.

He has never looked back since.

‘It was definitely good to get some sort of recognition and to gain the All-Australian selection and MVP was a real thrill,’ Honeychurch said.

Though he claims not to be one to get ‘caught up in all the jazz’ of TAC Cup and AFL football, Honeychurch has now put forward a solid case to AFL recruiting managers.

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