By Nick Creely
One of Officer’s favourite sons will return to Starling Road in 2021.
Cal Porter – born and raised playing football for the Kangaroos and eventually the Gippsland Power – will return home after spending three years on the Western Bulldogs’ list after being drafted with Pick 74 in 2017, signing with the club in a major boost to the Outer East Division 1 club.
Porter played one AFL game in 2020, gathering nine disposals in a five-point win against Gold Coast, impressing with four tackles, seven contested possessions and a clearance.
The club is hoping that Porter can play enough games to qualify for the AFL Outer East finals.
In addition to signing locally with the Kangaroos, the 21-year-old midfielder is hoping to re-ignite his AFL career after signing with the Box Hill Hawks under Sam Mitchell in the VFL, and is also training with Hawthorn.
Porter told the Gazette that he was honoured to sign with the club with his family having such a rich history with the Kangaroos.
“My grandma Carol is a life member herself as well, and her father Clive Gilbert (his great grandfather) also played for the football club and is a life member,” he said.
“So being a fourth-generation player at the footy club with my family’s impact spanning decades is really special and my passion for the football club and for the town is unmatched.
“I’m super excited for the year ahead at Box Hill to try and reignite my AFL dream, I’m only 21 so my best footy is definitely in front of me and not behind, and any time I can spend down at Officer in the meantime will be a bonus.
“I love the place and I love the people.”
Officer president Nick McLennan said the club was thrilled to welcome back its homegrown young star.
“The club is excited to have Cal back at Starling Rd. He’s one of our own and grew up playing football for Officer,” he said.
“His football talents are only surpassed by his personality, he’s genuinely one of the best blokes you could meet.
“He has some great friends at the club and is a much loved part of the Officer football community.
“It’s no secret that the Porter family are synonymous with the Officer/ROC football club.
“Both his father and grandfather played footy at Officer and are both life members, and to this day the Porter family still run the grounds committee and can be seen at the club almost every day tending to the facilities.”
McLennan said that whenever Porter has taken to the field for the club, he has always been a class above.
“I remember watching Cal’s first senior game when he was only 16 or 17,” he said.
“He played off the wing against Beaconsfield in Round 3, 2016. There wasn’t much of him back then, but he kicked two goals and had 30-odd disposals. Right then and there I knew he was going to be a very good footballer.
“I think one of the proudest days for our club in recent years was when Cal was drafted, closely followed by his debut.
“We certainly didn’t expect him to be back with us this soon, but we have no doubt this isn’t the end of the Cal’s football journey and we’re here to support him in any way we can.”
Officer coach Doug Koop said the group was looking forward to learning from the youngster whenever possible.
“Cal being around the club presents a fantastic example of professionalism for the rest of the group,” he said.
“The benefit of signing Cal is far greater than just his football ability and what he is able to do on the field. There is a lot we can all learn from him.
“Cal is a living example of the standard we want to set as a club and we’re excited he’s on board.”