Chris’ son Fischer McAsey (pronounced Mack-A-See) is in the draft this week. He is tall, a very good contested mark, and has a canny understanding of where the ball will go next. Recruiters figure him as a key defender, but he can play many positions. It will be surprising if he is not taken in the first round; indeed it will be remarkable if he is still available by pick 15.
Fischer inherited some, but not all, of his sporting ability from his dad. His grandfather on his mum Gina’s side, Paul Hearnden, played at Wimbledon and in several Australian Opens. He also coached Hong Kong’s Davis Cup team.
Fischer inherited his size from his granddad, too. He is 195 centimetres tall. “Physically he looks like my dad,” Gina said.
Fischer perhaps also inherited something of the elite sportsman’s mindset from Paul. His nickname was “Killer”. His mum also isn’t to be crossed on the tennis court.
“I remember having hits with him and he was pretty, not strict, but he was pretty firm in how to play,” Fischer said. “I don’t think I had to learn to be determined and competitive from him, I think I had that because of my passion for footy and competitiveness.”
When Fischer was young the family lived in Thailand. He was about four when they decided to return to Australia and Chris thought he should teach Fisch to kick a footy because it would help him fit in at his new school.
They went to Lumpini Park in central Thailand, about the only area of green space in the city, and pulled out a footy.
“I was giving him all these instructions and he kept trying to kick it and missed it completely,” Chris remembered. “Then I said ‘forget everything I said and just try to kick it as hard as you can’ and he just booted it 10 or 20m. He was only four.”
When they arrived in Australia, Nathan Buckley taught Fischer to kick. He was given a video of footy skills in his AusKick pack and he played it on high rotation in the lounge room, studying Buckley intently.
“I arrived home that night and Fisch is in the backyard kicking these perfect drop punts. Nathan Buckley taught him,” Chris said.
Fischer was always bigger than the other kids but it was not until he made rep teams and played against other big kids that he grasped that he was genuinely capable.
His under-13s side at the East Brighton Vampires included five players – himself, Finn Maginness, Hugo Ralphsmith, Miles Bergman and Josh Worrell – who are all a strong chance to be picked relatively early in this week’s draft.
“We didn’t win the flag. We had a few late bloomers in the team.”
Fischer grew up a Western Bulldogs fan and they are one of the clubs taking a keen interest in him.
Chris returned to his roots as a Footscray fan after he left St Kilda. He went overseas for a few years, wrote a couple of Lonely Planet books (Indonesia and Brazil), followed Gina to Sydney for her music career (we’ll get to that), returned to Melbourne and was hired by his sister Jenny’s husband to help make the documentary, Year of the Dogs. The experience rekindled his love of the Dogs.
Fischer adopted the Dogs and from prep onwards wrote letters to the players and always got replies. He and Matthew Boyd continued exchanging regular letters for years.
Fischer is not a showman but he inherited a sense that whatever he did would be in front of people.
His mum, Gina Hearnden, is a guitarist and singer who in the 1980s and 90s was a member of The Hollow Men alongside Billy Baxter, at a time when he was better known as a musician than a Coodabeen Champion.
Gina now fronts what she calls Elsternwick’s best alt-country band, Blackbirds FC. They are better than that … they could at least take in Elwood too.
“I never realized how good she was and how big her bands were back in the day but they played her song on the radio the other week and the guy said, ‘It’s so great to hear Gina Hearnden singing again,’ and I was like, ‘Wow she is seriously good. I never realized that’.”
Blackbirds FC are very good. (The FC is deliberately ambiguous; it might stand for footy club, or folk collective, but recently became f— cancer after one of the band was given the all clear for the illness.)
That is sort of the point about Fischer McAsey; there are so many interesting aspects to his story that are about those around him.
This week he will move from being a part of other people’s stories to being the central figure in his own.
Michael Gleeson is an award-winning senior sports writer specialising in AFL and athletics.