|V/AFL Clubs||St Kilda, Collingwood|
Please note this player profile has been sourced from Wikipedia. A biography of this player written especially for australianfootball.com is in preparation.
Luke Patrick Ball (born 25 May 1984) is a professional Australian rules football player currently playing for Collingwood in the Australian Football League.
From 2003 to 2009 he played 142 games for the St Kilda Football Club where he was captain in 2007 and best and fairest and All-Australian in 2005.
Ball is the younger brother of Hawthorn player Matthew Ball, both of whom played for the local football club at Ashburton in their junior years. Both brothers and little sister Sophie grew up with their parents in the Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris, attending St Roch's Primary School. His father, Ray Ball, was also a footballer, who played for Richmond and South Melbourne. He was drafted to the St Kilda Football Club in 2001 with the priority pick (number 2 overall) in the AFL Draft. The draft that year was known as the "super draft" and Ball was taken behind Luke Hodge and ahead of Chris Judd. He debuted in 2003 after having injury problems and choosing to play football for Xavier College in his final school year. Ball finished his schooling with a VCE ENTER score of 98.8.
Ball was a Rising Star nominee in his debut season of 2003.
Ball played in St Kilda’s 2004 Wizard Home Loans Cup winning side, the club's second pre-season cup win. 2004 was a big year for Ball, coming second in St Kilda's Trevor Barker Award for the club's best and fairest player.
In 2005 Ball won the Trevor Barker Award for St Kilda's best and fairest player, tying with Steven Baker. Ball was also recognised for his excellent season with selection in the 2005 All-Australian Team as a midfield player, his first All-Australian Team award. When Nick Riewoldt was injured in the opening round of the 2005 season (and consequently missed the next five weeks), Ball was appointed as acting captain.
In 2006 Ball was announced as the St Kilda captain, succeeding Nick Riewoldt under the Saints' then rotational captaincy policy. Early in the season groin problems kept the young captain from performing at his best, but he was cleared in mid-June of having Osteitis pubis from which many media outlets had claimed he was suffering. Ball's second half of the season saw improvement in his game.
In 2007 Ball was co-captain along with Lenny Hayes and Riewoldt. He played a total of 18 games of the home and away season - picking up 345 disposals, five goals and 91 tackles. Although well down on his 2005 form, he played a valuable role in the team and solidified his reputation as a "hard-nut" and core member of St Kilda's midfield.
Ball played in St Kilda’s 2008 NAB Cup winning side - St Kilda's third pre-season cup win. In 2008 Ball again missed only four games with injury - picking up 392 disposals, seven goals and 107 tackles. A hamstring tear late in the season caused him to miss the finals series.
Ball played in 17 of 22 matches in the 2009 AFL season home and away rounds in which St Kilda qualified in first position for the finals, winning the club’s third minor premiership.
St Kilda qualified for the 2009 AFL Grand Final after qualifying and preliminary finals wins. Ball played in the grand final when St Kilda was defeated by 12 points.
At the end of 2009 season Ball requested to be traded to Collingwood. A deal between the two clubs, however, was not settled before the trade week deadline despite mediation from the AFL. On 10 November 2009 he officially left St Kilda and nominated for the national draft. On 26 November 2009 he was drafted to Collingwood with their first pick (number 30 overall).
Ross Lyon described the departure of Ball in early 2010:
"Look, Luke Ball in simple terms is this: Luke had a rich history with St Kilda, but the AFL is a professional sport and expectations are often set and not met by club or player. Clearly, along the line, there has been some expectations not met on both sides of the fence. Luke is a Collingwood player now and that's his future and it's not for me to talk about our expectations. During the year he got dropped, then he matched our expectations (and returned) and then obviously there was some expectations from Luke that we weren't meeting and he moved on. That's where that sits. That (the failed trade to Collingwood) was the decision we made at the time and we stand by that. Did we want nothing for him? No. Let's be clear on this, Luke wasn't traded or delisted. Luke walked out on St Kilda, of which he had a million dollar-plus contract on the table."
Of the departure, Ball stated that "I guess Collingwood's list and the fact they have been right up there for three or four years is attractive, plus a good blend of youth and experience. I have moved on from St Kilda with no bitterness or resentment. I had eight great years with the club. But after eight years I felt like I needed a fresh start and fresh opportunity. That's a pretty simple way to put it and maybe when the dust settles I'll be able to explain it a bit better."
Ball made his Collingwood debut in the NAB Cup first round, coincidentally against St Kilda, his former club. The Saints won the game by one point after they had been leading by seven goals in the third quarter. His home and away debut came in Round 1 against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium. The Magpies won the game by 36 points with Ball having 18 disposals. In the Preliminary Final, Ball left the field during the third quarter with a hamstring cramp. Despite this he was selected in the squad for the grand final.
Collingwood played St Kilda in the 2010 AFL Grand Finals on 25 September, which ended in a draw. The premiership was decided in a rematch on 2 October 2010, that Collingwood won. In his post match interview, Ball was modest in celebrating, citing respect towards his ex-teammates in St Kilda and adding "It was more about trying to restart a career and it’s amazing how it has all turned out."
Ball had another stellar season in the midfield whilst joining Collingwood's leadership group, he averaged 21.5 disposals and 166 tackles in 24 matches. He also returned to form in front of goal after having much criticism for his goal kicking, he answered his critics by slotting 18.3 for the season.
During the 2011 season he became one of Collingwood's most important and most consistent players. Grabbing the spotlight in the finals series whilst scoring two clutch goals to seal victories in both the Qualifying final and Preliminary final.
Ball started off the 2012 season by being elected the President of the AFL players association. He also was appointed acting captain in Collingwood's first NAB cup game.
During Collingwood's Round 3 match against Carlton, Ball suffered a knee injury in the first quarter. After having it strapped, Ball returned to the field but subsequently re-injured his knee just before halftime. Later scans revealed Ball had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), requiring a knee reconstruction, ending his season.