Playing with Bulldogs a dream come true for Solomon
DESPITE spending the past seven years with East Fremantle, Jake Solomon always dreamed of playing with South Fremantle, his family wanted him to and he will get that chance on Saturday in the season-opener against Subiaco.
The 22-year-old ruckman crossed from East Fremantle over summer in a swap for young forward Jesse Mirco in a move that both clubs were happy with, and that indeed Solomon and his family were delighted with.
Solomon's family has always supported the Bulldogs, even when he was playing at the Sharks, and he still recalls wearing a South Fremantle jumper down to train with Bull Creek-Leeming in his younger days.
When he did that, he always dreamed of one day doing it at league level for the Bulldogs.
"When I was 12 or 13 years old, I would wear a South Fremantle jersey to my local club footy training. That was the jersey I had but then I hit the age of 14 and I went down to East Fremantle," Solomon said.
"I was just stoked to be playing and East Fremantle did a lot for me and were great in my development. I owe a lot to them but it's exciting to be here at South. When I pulled on that jumper for the first time it made me think back to when I used to wear the Red V down to Bull Creek-Leeming training so they are good memories."
Solomon will now get that chance on Saturday against Subiaco in the season-opener at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
"Since I first sat down with Dave Depane (football manager) in early November, the No. 1 goal was to run out there with the senior side for Round 1," he said.
"Brock (Higgins) has been touch and go with his rehab, but now it looks like I'll get my chance and once I'm out there, I'll go out there and do my best to try and hold my spot. Todd has told me that possession is nine-tenths of the law. I have the spot at the moment and I need to make sure I keep improving."
Solomon has nothing but positive memories of his time at East Fremantle through development squads, colts, reserves and his three league appearances in 2016.
But that didn’t mean his family ever quite accepted him in Sharks colours and they couldn’t be happier now to not need divided loyalties during derbies.
"Dad always refused to clap even if I did anything good for East Fremantle in a derby so he's probably the most stoked out of everyone. Everyone is just happy for me too and dad has always been my No. 1 fan and is always happy for me to be playing footy, but it's an added bonus for him now that I'm at South," Solomon said.
"I also have some family ties here as well so I'm happy to be here. I have been at East Fremantle since I was 14 years old and it was always quite funny because my family has always bled red-and-white.
"Dad is a huge supporter and my uncle is here as well so it was actually quite comforting to come over even though I had nothing against East Fremantle when I was there. I just want to get out there and have a kick and have some fun, but I know my family is happy I'm here now."
Solomon is appreciative to the support that East Fremantle gave him over the years and the chance they provided in his career, but he was more than open to the prospect of joining South Fremantle once it was broached with him.
"Apparently, Jesse Mirco was really keen to get over to East Fremantle and I was approached by both South and East Fremantle to see if I would be interested in coming across. From what I heard from both sides, I was told that I would get a bit more opportunities here as well so that was really the deciding factor to come over," he said.
"I was really appreciative to Darren Fry and Rob Wiley for giving me those league games, but really because of health and injury I never really gave myself the best chance to be playing regular season footy down there.
"Touchwood I've had an uninterrupted pre-season now so I've given myself every chance this year to have a solid season.
"Being a tall, lanky young bloke I had a lot of injuries growing up and never had a solid pre-season since I played State 18s in my second year of colts when I had my best season. Besides that I've always had surgeries or been really ill and missed a lot of time in the pre-season or season."
Solomon is having no trouble fitting in at the Bulldogs either and it's worked out that his body and health is the best it's ever been too meaning he's never felt better coming into a new season.
"All the boys have been accepting of me and they're all good blokes so I'm settling in well. I already knew a few of them from juniors and state squads from a few years ago, and everyone else has been friendly and welcoming so I'm fitting quite well I reckon," Solomon said.
"I have had limited league experience in the past and one thing I do continue to notice is that the game's a lot faster compared to colts and ressies. But I think I'm getting used to it and my fitness base is a lot higher than it has been the last couple of years too because I've had a bit more of a pre-season. I'm really keen now for the season to start."