Speed and intensity.
They’re the two words that underpin the game of Jy Farrar who has burst onto the scene at Gold Coast this year.
They also describe the sudden rate by which the 24-year-old has developed into an AFL footballer, from his Halls Creek beginnings to the 2019 draft, where he was selected with pick 60.
But in between the desert’s red dirt and the Gold Coast’s surf beaches was an audacious journey across the country, for much of which Farrar viewed himself merely as a local footballer.
Farrar first became accustomed to daunting moves at only 14 years of age, when in pursuit of a better education, he travelled south for almost 3000 kilometres to Perth.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t really enjoy boarding school as much in my first year,” he told aflplayers.com.au. “It was a bit of a culture shock going from 1500 (people) in the town to 1500 (students) in the school that I went to, so it was a bit scary, a bit overwhelming.”
But through football, Farrar slowly grew comfortable with the vastly different environment he found himself surrounded by.
“You make mates and start to relate to people with footy,” he explained.
“Sport was one of the bigger things that helped me get through it, and then after year eight, year nine, things just got a whole lot easier. Finishing school was probably one of the biggest highlights of my life.”
He made his firsts football debut in year 11, then played out the season in year 12. But no WAFL club recognised his talents, and Farrar soon returned to his roots.
“I spent two years back home, floating around being a weekend warrior, playing alright footy at home,” he recalled. “My brother said, ‘You may as well go somewhere and see how far you can take your footy’”.
How far could he take his footy? 3,363 kilometres, as it turned out.
This time, Farrar decided to venture to country Victoria.
“A spot opened up in Wangaratta, at the North Wangaratta Hawks. They were struggling at the time, so I put my hand up and made the move, me and my cousin from Halls Creek, we both went and played a year out there,” he said.
“It didn’t really go well winning-wise, but it was one of the better experiences I had, being away from home playing footy and working in a different environment.”
The 14-year-old boy who was initially daunted in new surroundings was now a man craving his next adventure.
“I didn’t want to go back home. I thought, ‘I’ve gone this far, I may as well just keep going’, and then another door opened up in South Australia.”
Farrar had been invited to play for Scotch College Old Collegians’ Football Club, a division two side in Adelaide’s amateur competition. Only a year later, he was suiting up for the Crows in the SANFL alongside his cousin Adelaide’s Shane McAdam, who also hails from Halls Creek.
“The start of the second year I was there, Adelaide, the SANFL side, invited me down to trial as a top-up player. Then it was (about building) my base fitness and stringing a couple of good games together in the amateurs to push my case. I ended up making my SANFL debut in that second year against Sturt. It was a wet, muddy day. I ended up playing another one against Port,” he said.
Still, he viewed himself primarily as an amateur footballer. But remarkably, and to his shock, Farrar’s pair of SANFL outings had attracted the attention of AFL clubs.
Farrar recalls the exchange he had with his Scotch College coach when he was notified of his draft potential.
“My coach at Scotch said, ‘You’ve got to be careful, there’s clubs looking at you’, and I said, ‘What are you talking about, it’s division two amateur league’.
He said, ‘Just keep stringing good games together and you never know what can happen’.
“It was towards the end of the year they sent an email saying that I got invited to the state combine in Adelaide. I was overwhelmed, I was pretty shocked, but I thought I’d go and see if I could put up good numbers.
“I ended up putting up relatively good numbers in the state combine, and then Gold Coast were pretty keen on me and picked me with pick 60 at the end of that year.”
The process was speedy, and it was intense.
This time, Farrar ventured over 2000 kilometres, and similarly to how his 14-year-old self reacted to a school which held the same population as his hometown, he was shocked at the sudden change in environment.
“It opened my eyes to professionalism,” he said. “I had to start watching what I ate and get in the weights room to get a bit stronger and get up to AFL standard.”
But after a year of effort, speed and intensity on the training track, Farrar was rewarded with an AFL debut in the final round of the 2020 season, playing against Hawthorn back in Adelaide.
The ensuing off-season was anything but ‘off’ for Farrar, who improved his strength, diet, and running capacity.
It also sparked a move to half-back.
“Wherever you think the team needs me or wherever I best fit, I’ll put my hand up and I’ll work hard,” Farrar recalled telling coaches.
The voyager is now as settled on the Gold Coast as he is with his number 50 jumper, which he did not give up even when offered a lower number for the 2021 season. With a list of 49 players, it means he has space on either side of his locker.
The 191-centimetre defender also enjoys the space in Queensland’s public eye, where players are afforded relative anonymity.
“The weather’s beautiful, beaches are good, can’t speak highly enough of my teammates, coaching staff, strength and conditioning coaches, I love everyone here. They’ve been really welcoming since I walked through the doors here,” he said.
Farrar’s goal for the season’s remainder is simple.
“Keep bringing that same intensity and speed.”