From Frosty on the outer to AFL finals
ON THE last day of the financial year - June 30 - Sam Frost was lining up for Casey Scorpions in the VFL wondering where his own stocks stood.
They had been up early in the season as he played games against North Melbourne in Round 3 and Hawthorn in Round 4 but soon took a dive as he was squeezed out and sent to the seconds, not to be seen again at AFL level for some time.
Even after fellow Melbourne key defender Jake Lever went down with a season-ending knee injury in Round 11, Frost couldn't crack a recall.
But he knew he was building as his confidence continued to grow and he began to get some enjoyment back in his footy.
"I was confident in what I was building at VFL level and I knew that when my chance came, if it came, I'd be right," Frost said.
"I was never looking too far ahead, I was just taking it one week at a time and trying to build my game and these things pan out in your favour if you keep a calm head and don't look too far ahead.
"I had a lot of work to do in being in more contests throughout the game and probably just playing more four-quarter games because I would show glimpses of really good footy and then would fade in and out of games so that was something I had to work on.
"But really in my head it was more just going out there with a clear mind. I focused a lot on just trying to enjoy my footy and really just have fun playing and that got me in a good head space and I naturally ended up competing better and playing better footy."
That match against Essendon on June 30 has proven to be the last VFL game this year for Frost, who was brought back into the AFL side the following week for Round 16 and hasn't looked back since.
Frost has had some big challenges against some of the AFL's best forwards, including Adelaide's Taylor Walker and West Coast's Jack Darling.
But his biggest challenge came in his first final against Geelong's Tom Hawkins last week and the 25-year-old stepped up to the plate.
Champion Data statistics show Frost spent 80 minutes manned up on Hawkins, holding the third-place getter in the Coleman Medal race to nine disposals and two goals while gathering nine touches of his own.
"The second half he got the better of me a few times," Frost said.
"He's a tough opponent and he's a huge guy and you can't stop everything but I think for the most part I did a reasonable job and I got a lot of help from my teammates. The midfield was outstanding and when they put the pressure on the ball doesn't come down that cleanly so all credit to those guys."
Speculation was rife last year that Frost could be traded to Adelaide as part of the deal to land Lever at the Demons but the man himself said that was "never talked about once".
Instead, the pair have played together this year and have still worked closely since Lever's injury.
"He stays as involved as he possibly can," Frost said of the former Crow.
"He's obviously got a great football brain so he's helping us out hanging around the backline group giving us pointers and sitting through vision and all our meetings so he's been really good.
"I'm sure he is doing it tough but he doesn't show it. He's a really mature guy and he's able to put things into perspective really well."
Frost signed a two-year contract extension last September, tying him to the club until at least the end of 2019.
He could not be happier with where he is and you sense the Demons could not be happier to have kept him as they prepare for a semi-final with Hawthorn on Friday night.
"It's no surprise the way things have gone this year, knowing what's been building and brewing the last two or three years," he said.
"It's hard not to enjoy it. A lot of the older guys who have been around a long time probably haven't experienced this sort of success and consistent brand of footy like we're playing now so there's a lot of happy guys around the club."