Most players who rise to the captaincy of an AFL club have been the driven, determined types who have been imbued with the heritage of the sport and their teams.
That’s not Max Gawn, a towering bearded hipster who freely admits he would have been thrown out of the club years ago if not for his height.
But despite that, Gawn was on Monday appointed captain of Melbourne – the most establishment of Victorian clubs since its 1858 founding.
In his teenage years, Gawn was happily employed at Domino’s and drafted to the AFL as a project player with potential to develop into a ruckman but whose super laid-back approach to training and diet almost saw him dismissed.
A decade ago though the loveable larrikin had a humble introduction to the working world after he was fired by his own mother from his job in hospitality.
Melbourne Demons ruckman (pictured with his fiancee Jessica Todd) has reflected on his rise from Domino’s Pizza to the storied club’s captaincy
Gawn, 28, was announced on Monday as the Demons first sole captain in four years on Monday
Gawn (pictured in his younger years) said he ‘nailed everything’ while working at the fast-food pizza chain
‘Who rosters someone at 7am on a Sunday after a 17th (birthday)? I didn’t turn up that day and she said don’t come in Monday, so I worked at Domino’s pizza for four years,’ he told the Herald Sun.
Gawn is poised to open a wine bar in Melbourne’s inner-east this year, but as a teenager he said his focus was on creating the perfect fast-food pizza as fast as possible.
‘I nailed everything — the speed, the weight, the look of the pizza — but I put too many bits of pepperoni on a Meatlovers,’ he said.
The industrious youngster said he was awarded the title of Victoria’s number two pizza maker, a prize he rivals with the $5000 he won at Flemington Racecourse when he picked the ever-elusive ‘quaddie’ – the winner of the last four races on the card.
Gawn’s parents moved to Australia from New Zealand with little money or qualifications, the footy player said.
His father was a firefighter while his mother worked as a hairdresser.
Gawn was drafted at the age of 17 by Melbourne after recruiters spotted his cross-country prowess
The youngster struggled at first to make a name for himself in the AFL, before exploding to success from 2016 onwards. He is pictured right jumping for a ball in the Victorian Football League in 2011
Come March 22, Gawn is set to lead the Demons out against the West Coast Eagles at Perth’s Optus Stadium
Gawn is pictured second from right at the 2019 Virgin Australia AFL All Australian Awards. He said his parents barely knew a thing about the sport when he was first drafted
Gawn – who described himself as a menace in the classroom but a proficient maths student – was drafted as a teenager by Melbourne after recruiters spotted his cross-country prowess.
He said his parents barely knew anything about Australian Rules and still call a goal a try.
At the time, he said they embarrassed him by asking the recruiters basic questions about the rules of the sport.
The athlete got down on one knee to propose to his partner Jess at the Queenstown Hill Summit in Queenstown, New Zealand in 2018
The youngster racked up only 39 games with Melbourne between 2010 and 2015 but came of age from the year after.
In 2018, he was named AFL Coaches’ Association player of the year.
On March 22, he should – recovery from a minor injury allowing – lead the Demons out against the West Coast Eagles at Perth’s Optus Stadium.
The footy great said his fiancee Jess was not keen on football players at first, but he got a second date after paying for her drink
The footy great also reflected on the beginning of his relationship with his now-fiancee Jess.
The couple shared their first Instagram post together in 2014, but Gawn said it took him a year to get a date out of her.
‘She was not keen on dating footballers, but I paid for the drink and got a second date … I hope I’ve found the right girl, because that was a pretty expensive ring,’ he said.
The athlete got down on one knee at the Queenstown Hill Summit in New Zealand in 2018.
‘Odds weren’t in my favour, but she said yes. My one and only,’ he captioned an Instagram post announcing the engagement in December of that year.