Blood Brothers            

This article first appeared on the NSW Australian Football History Society’s website. Check out the site for more great stories and facts about our game in NSW.


Footy’s all about playing with your mates, but there aren’t many AFL clubs where a trio of kids who have played alongside each other since they were 14 are living their dreams together.

Errol Gulden, Braeden Campbell and Marc Sheather first came together as a threesome with the NSW under 15s in 2016 and the boys from Maroubra, Westbrook and Killarney Vale have spent the next seven footy seasons playing together for their state and now for the Sydney Swans.

“I grew up playing with Ez and Marc and share a house with Marc now. We’re obviously a very tight group of boys,” Campbell said.

“It’s awesome.”

Gulden’s stellar season continues to shine and his eight coaches’ votes in last week’s draw with Geelong took him to the lead in the Carey-Bunton medal for the best NSW player in the AFL. He’s jumped to 37 votes, three ahead of Broken Hill’s Adelaide forward Taylor Walker.


Marc Sheather and Braeden Campbell after the time trial during 2020 draft testing


Campbell picked up his first votes for the year with four against the Cats, while Sheather was back in the reserves last week.

And they’re just three of the locals making the Swans a truly Sydney team.

“It’s kind of cool, you look around the changerooms and you see who’s from here, Dane Rampe, Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Nick Blakey, Sam Wicks, Ez, Marc,” Campbell said.

“There’s some older blokes and us younger ones, it’s great.”

Campbell started playing footy with Westbrook in the under 11s, inspired by his Blue Mountains-raised dad Wade who gave up athletics to take up Aussie Rules at the age of 25 when he played for local club Penrith.

Campbell graduated to senior footy with Pennant Hills by the time he was 15, spending two seasons in the Demons’ first grade against grown men in Sydney’s premier division before getting drafted in 2020.

He’s the latest from the Pennant Hills footy factory, following GWS ruckman Kieren Briggs who was a couple of years ahead of him at the Demons, while Sheather moved from the Central Coast to also play with the club in Sydney’s northwest.

“I met Kieren at a Pennant Hills game when he came to watch us play while I was there,” said Campbell, who also regularly goes back to watch the Demons.

“I enjoy going back to my local club, and I go back to Westbrook as well, I like giving back and to see people who helped me along the way.”

And he acknowledges Gulden’s role in helping him on the way as well as they represented NSW and Swans academy sides through their teenage years.

“In the early days, we went through the process together, it was great to have him there all the way, we’d talk about stuff and we’d help each other through stuff,” he said.

“We didn’t think about the long term goal of being drafted. It was just each game and we’d help each other each week.

“We have a great link on the field now because we’ve been playing together for years. I know which way he’s going to turn and where he’ll go, we’ve got that link – not many players have that.”

He was destined, and determined, to play for the Swans but had some anxious draft moments.

“I was hoping the Swans would match a bid anyone else would come with,” he said.

“There was a bid from Hawthorn and I was super happy just to be picked up, but when the Swans matched the bid I was over the moon, I wanted to stay here with my family and friends.”

And those friends are part of the Swans as well.


Errol Gulden now sits atop the votes in the Carey Bunton Medal


CAREY BUNTON MEDAL Coaches Votes          Round 16


37    Errol Gulden (Sydney Swans / UNSW-Eastern Suburbs)    8

34    Taylor Walker (Adelaide/ North Broken Hill)     

24    Nick Blakey (Sydney Swans/ UNSW-Eastern Suburbs)      7

24     Jarrod Witts (Gold Coast Suns/ Sydney University)    

20    Jeremy Finalyson (Port Adelaide / Culcairn)     

18    Tom Hawkins (Geelong/ Finley) 

12    Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans/ Cardiff)      

12    Callum Mills (Sydney Swans / Mosman)      1

10    Jacob Hopper (Richmond / Leeton-Whitton)  

9     Kieren Briggs (GWS Giants / Pennant Hills)      

9     Lachlan Shultz (Fremantle/ Moama)   

8     Dane Rampe (Sydney Swans / UNSW-Eastern Suburbs)      

7     Todd Marshall (Port Adelaide/ Deniliquin) 

6     Harry Perryman (GWS Giants / Collingullie-Glenfield Park)   

6     Jack Buckley (GWS Giants / UNSW-Eastern Suburbs)      

5     Harry Cunningham (Sydney Swans/ Turvey Park)    

5     Will Setterfield (Essendon / Albury)      

4     Braeden Campbell (Sydney Swans / Pennant Hills) 4

3     Isaac Smith (Geelong / Cootamundra) 

3     Luke Breust (Hawthorn / Temora)