‘Unbelievable’: Boucher’s match-winning moment

Let’s set the scene.

You’re standing in your back yard or local park.

Your team is trailing by less than a goal, the seconds ticking down until the inevitable final siren sounds.

You, right now with football in hand, have the opportunity to go back for your team and claim victory off your own boot.

You take a deep breath, run in… and nail the goal.

The crowd erupts. You turn around in celebration as your teammates pile on top of you in pure elation and glory.

It’s every young boy or girl’s dream.

For Nathan Boucher, his dream became a reality on Saturday afternoon at Box Hill City Oval.

Boucher’s 50-metre set-shot from the boundary, followed by a Jackson Ross snap at goal 20 seconds later, sealed a memorable nine-point victory for Box Hill in another thrilling chapter in the Hawks and Cats rivalry.

“It was unbelievable,” Boucher said post-match.

“There was a huge relief from the group, getting across in a close game.”

But amongst all the mayhem and jubilation, Boucher had been preparing behind the scenes for this moment his whole career.

“I was calm,” he said.

“I knew there couldn’t be long left.”

“I thought… I have an opportunity to kick a goal. If I miss, we still have an opportunity to create a turnover from the kick in.

“Goal kicking has been something I’ve really focused on over the past two seasons. Coming out of school, I knew I was going to have to play more of a small forward role.

“We muck around with the boys every Tuesday and Thursday at training, kicking goals from the boundary.

“Taking those opportunities are crucial.”

On Saturday Nathan Boucher was the hero, yet two years earlier this moment could not have been any further away from reality.

After playing every game and starring for Oakleigh Chargers in his bottom-age year, the former Wesley College student was embarking on “preparing myself for a big Under-18s year.”

But in Round 1 against arch-rivals Scotch College, his dream threatened to vanish before his eyes.

Taking the game on in typical fashion with zip and dash, Boucher was caught from behind, his leg catching underneath in the tackle and snapping.

His season, and all hope of getting drafted at the end of the year, was left broken in disarray as his leg before him.

When recalling this day, Boucher’s face grimaces in light of the emotional anguish he experienced.

“It was shattering,” he recalled.

“At that point, I knew I would need to go the long way around to pursue my dream.”

“Players in the past.. you look at Tim Kelly, Ben Cavarra and Mick Gibbons.. they gave me hope of pursuing my football dream and getting drafted.

“I didn’t want to finish my football journey not knowing where I could have got to. The biggest motivator for me was to become the best player that I can.

“Whether that is 50 VFL games or getting drafted…that is what it will be.”

True to his word, Boucher came back stronger than ever and grabbed an opportunity to join Box Hill’s list with both hands.

Agony swiftly turned to ecstasy when in only his third game, a blockbuster clash against Footscray at Marvel Stadium, he drove his team to a comprehensive victory with three goals.

He backed up his performance in the Round 2 clash against Sandringham this season at the very same venue, tearing the game open from the first bounce to kick four trademark, electric, left-foot goals.

In only his short career, Boucher had stamped himself as a Marvel Stadium specialist.

Boucher spoke glowingly of his now obvious love affair with the bright lights of Docklands.

“It’s a good ground when you have a bit of speed; the ball travels that little bit further and you can read it true without any wind or external factors,” he said.

“It gave me confidence that I am good enough for this level. As a small forward it is all about taking your opportunities.”

Boucher has now raced past the five total games he played for Box Hill last season, featuring in six this season to date.

The small forward credits his development at his local club Collegians in the VAFA, his diligent off-field routine and watching endless footage of star AFL small-forwards with Development Coach Torin Baker as the key behind his rise to form this season.

And along with fellow youngsters Vincent Adduci, Stuart Horner and Lachie Walker, the Hawks no.67 is thriving in stepping up to fill the void left by the departed and experienced Premiership players.

“At the end of the day, everyone has skill,” he said.

“But if I can improve by that 1%, that’s going to give me that edge on my opponents.”

Box Hill Coach Max Bailey has been impressed with the youngster’s work ethic and commitment to his teammates.

“We’ve been really pleased with how he goes about it,” Bailey said.

“He’s a hard worker, wants to improve and is really keen to get better and better.”

“The goal was awesome, but it came off the back of some really hard contested ball wins from the team.”

Saturday afternoon’s clutch match-winning goal is a moment Boucher will never forget.

But according to Boucher himself, the significance of that kick is just as crucial in Box Hill’s quest for back-to-back premierships.

“It was massive for our momentum going forward, and to consolidate our spot in the Top 8,” he said.

“Hopefully it can set us up for a really big finals campaign.”

“For me to do my part and kick a winner in the last, it’s just part of the story. I’m rapt.”



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