AFL Rd 1 - Collingwood v Western Bulldogs
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Tim English of the Bulldogs and Brodie Grundy of the Magpies compete in the ruck during the round one AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Western Bulldogs at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 19, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Tim English a Magpie? It nearly happened.

Former Collingwood recruiter Matt Rendell has recounted a a story about how the club showed serious interest in him as a junior in 2014 before he was eligible to be drafted.

Arguably the most promising young ruckman in the game, English was eventually drafted to the Bulldogs with Pick 19 in the 2016 National Draft.

Speaking on SEN radio, Rendell recalled one of the Pies’ Western Australian scouts identifying English’s talent while he was in school.

“If you’re a Collingwood supporter, you’ll want to turn off for about two minutes,” Rendell told SEN’s Dwayne’s World on Thursday afternoon.

“Tim English went to a Catholic school in Perth, and one of our part-time recruiters was a teacher there.

“He said, ‘Can you come and have a look at this bloke? He’s got some talent, he’s a big skinny kid, (but) I don’t know if he’s competitive enough. Come and have a look, and see what you think’.

“I go over and watch him and I thought, ‘He’s got some serious talent, (and) you’re right, he’s not quite competitive enough.’”

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AFL Rd 7 - Essendon v Western Bulldogs
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – JULY 17: Tim English of the Bulldogs (right) celebrates a goal with team mates during the round 7 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Western Bulldogs at Metricon Stadium on July 17, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

However, English was not allowed to be drafted as he had not played a state league game.

To make him eligible, Rendell organised for English to be enrolled for Claremont so he could play in the final home and away game.

Unless English played a blinder and caught the eyes of rival recruiters, the Pies planned to swoop on him in the rookie draft.

“I said, ‘Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. There’s one game to go in the WAFL, what’s his home team?’” Rendell recalled.

“He lived in Claremont. Claremont weren’t in the finals, they had one game to go.

“I said, ‘Take him down on Thursday once all the paperwork’s in, we’ll qualify him and he can play the game’.

“‘I’ll come over and watch. Hopefully he doesn’t go too good, and we’ll take him as a rookie in the draft’.”

MACKAY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 03: Tim English of the Bulldogs contests the ball with Jarrod Witts of the Suns during the 2019 JLT Community Series AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Western Bulldogs at Great Barrier Reef Arena on March 03, 2019 in Mackay, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

But Collingwood’s hopes of landing English were dealt a mighty blow as English’s Claremont paperwork got knocked back.

As English had not lived in Claremont for the three years required to switch allegiance from South Fremantle, his application fell through.

And one year later the Bulldogs snatched him up.

“So Claremont can’t play him. South Freo weren’t in the finals but they’ve finished training, (and) it’s a Thursday, so he doesn’t play on the weekend,” Rendell added.

“(So) I can’t pick him. The next year he plays at South Fremantle, kills it and gets picked what, (19) in the draft. I go, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’.

“Poor Collingwood supporters, they missed out on Tim English because of that.”

Interestingly, the Magpies did not have a first-round selection in English’s draft year after bundling it with another first-rounder the year prior to acquire Adam Treloar from GWS.

English is coming off a breakout 2020 season, averaging 13.4 disposals, 4.3 marks and 16 hitouts from 18 matches.

The 23-year old has continued his strong form in 2021 playing primarily as a key forward, averaging 14 disposals and booting eight goals.