Gram dreams of AFL return

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 22 Januari 2013 | 14.43

Jason Gram drives the Saints out of defence. Picture: Michael Klein Source: Herald Sun

SACKED St Kilda defender Jason Gram hasn't given up on a return to the AFL.

Gram, who was sacked by the Saints at the end of last season due to off-field behavioural issues, has signed to play under Jason Akermanis at North Albury this season.

And while the attacking defender says he is looking forward to a fresh start, he believes he still has something to offer at the elite level.

"I still believe I've got three or four years of good AFL football left, so I'm going to do everything I can still play to an AFL standard for North Albury this season," Gram said.

"If someone comes up to have a look and likes what they see then I'm not going to say no."

Despite having numerous offers from metropolitan clubs, Gram said he was always keen to play country football.

"Being a country boy from Sale, I knew once AFL was over that country football was where I'd prefer to play," he said.

"I received a lot of offers over the past few months ... and in the end cut it down to three."

After a two-day road trip that involved meeting clubs in Ballarat, Shepparton and Albury, Gram finally settled on the Hoppers.

"I had a look at their facilities and had a chat to Aker and was really impressed by the club," Gram said.

"It will be good to get out of Melbourne. I'll probably head up on a Thursday and come back on a Sunday or Saturday night.

"Hopefully I'll get to spend some time up there, meet the locals and enjoy a few beers with the boys after the game."

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Akermanis, who is the midst of his first pre-season as playing coach, said Gram's signature was a significant coup for North Albury.

"When we found he was still on the market I quickly texted him and said you might not be thinking about us, but you probably should," Akermanis told Weekly Times Now.

"He (Gram) let us know what the offers were everywhere else and we were able to match them quite easily."

While Akermanis would not divulge what Gram would receive for his services, he said it was not in the same ball park as the $5000 a game that Fevola was rumoured to be earning as he powered Yarrawonga to last year's Ovens and Murray league flag.

"It's bit ridiculous with what he's getting (Fevola), but if someone is willing to pay that than good luck to him," Akermanis said.

"Gram deserves every cent because he's going to put bums on seats and, while you get a sign on fee, you still have to play to be paid."

Akermanis said it was the Hoppers' last-placed finish in 2012 that was the biggest obstacle in landing Gram.

"I said you wouldn't have to worry about that mate (being competitive). It's chalk and cheese, just with the number of new players and the players coming back from injury," Akermanis said.

"In the end he didn't choose the money. He said the best thing for me, and his dad agreed, was to get out of Melbourne. Albury is a long way away and you can just relax and enjoy your footy."

In what looms as one of the highlights on the country football calendar; Gram, Akermanis - and possibly Cupido – are scheduled to meet Fevola and co when North Albury faces Yarrawonga in Round 2 on Saturday, April 6.

"That first game at home, we'll have Fev, Me, Grammy (Jason Gram) and possibly Damian Cupido – we're still in negotiations with him. We'll put them all in the mix, plus all of the other recruits we've got and it will just be a massive day for everyone at the club," Akermanis said.

Meanwhile, former Melbourne and Collingwood player Simon Buckley has signed for Echuca in the Goulburn Valley League.

Read more at Weekly Times Now

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