An athletic tall who could go anywhere with his footballing capabilities, he also is a hard-working, intelligent character off the field.
Ramsden realised his dream of making it to the AFL when he was selected with pick 6 in the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft earlier this year, by his boyhood club, Hawthorn.
“It’s been so good, amazing really,” he said.
Ramsden’s journey to the big time hasn’t been via the same traditional elite pathways that many draftees follow.
“I started in bottom age under 9s at South Melbourne Districts in the South Metro Junior Football League. With my friends at school, we all decided to play local footy. My parents and uncle were a big part of it as well.
“I played until year 8, for the next three years I just played basketball and then in year 12 I stopped basketball and just played footy at school.
“I had growing pains, so I had to choose between the two sports. I was enjoying basketball more at the time so went down that path.”
Ramsden was also a handy basketballer, playing representative basketball for the Melbourne Tigers.
However, after going through multiple COVID affected years, Ramsden took up football again in year 12 to reignite his social connections at school.
“After interrupted years of COVID, I hadn’t seen any of my mates at school for ages, they all played footy, so I decided I wanted to play with them in year 12 again.”
Along with his elite basketball background, Ramsden has also dabbled in the field of athletics.
“I’ve done a fair bit of athletics, 1800s and 1500s and I did Cross Country at school. Outside of school I ran competitively quite a bit, but it was mainly through APS Athletics.”
To put his athletic capabilities into perspective, Ramsden ran a 6:04 two-kilometre time trial last year, ranked second amongst the entire Sandringham Dragons list.
For a man standing at over 200cm, that is phenomenal.
Off the field, Ramsden is one of Sandringham’s finest, too.
He’s currently studying Commerce at Melbourne University and intends to do a Masters of Engineering once he completes the commerce degree.
“I just have to be really organised and not let things creep up me. Be prepared to have some short sleeps and miss out on a few things with your mates if you want to do all those things.”
The current NAB League season has been Ramsden’s only season with the Dragons, having joined the program through a recommendation from Rhy Gieschen, his coach at Melbourne Grammar.
“I asked Rhy Gieschen to give the Dragons a call, he thought I could do pretty well in the program. Jacko [Kornberg] got me down and then Crippa took over.
“It’s a pretty strong competition the APS. The pre-season was a lot bigger at Dragons than anything I’ve done before, but otherwise it was pretty similar. The Dragons maybe had a slightly more even level of talent.”
Ramsden pinpoints his uncle, Andy and his parents as key influences on his football career so far.
“My uncle, Andy. He played a lot of footy; he was on both the Essendon and Carlton rookie lists but never got a game. He was a big Amateurs player, he’s in the Hall of Fame and played at Old Trinity. I’ve been looking up to him, he’s pretty similar to me in that he didn’t really properly play footy until he was a bit older. Him and Mum and Dad, but my uncle has probably been my biggest mentor or influence.”
Ramsden was one of the most talked about prospects in the lead up to the mid-season draft but made sure that the external noise did not impact his preparation or performance.
“I tried not to read into it, but people sent me stuff, which was cool, I guess. There’s not much point reading what other people have to say about you because they’ve got no idea a lot of the time.
“We had family and friends at my house. We crammed into the TV room. When my name got called out, everyone went crazy, it was an awesome feeling.”
Ramsden did not know where he would land on draft night, but once Hawthorn’s pick rolled around, he hoped his dream might come true.
“I was really unsure. I thought maybe GWS would take me. When they didn’t, I was hoping the Hawks would and luckily, they did, which was amazing.”
Had he been selected by an interstate team, Ramsden thinks that he would have handled the extra challenges well but is enjoying the ability to play for the club he loves and also remain close to home.
“I think it would be a lot harder [moving interstate], a lot more of a challenge. I think I would have done everything the same, dedicated myself the same way but it would have been harder being away from my support groups and stuff. Now that I’m in Melbourne I can keep up with my uni, too.
Ramsden joined fellow Melbourne Grammar graduates and best mates, Josh Ward and Ned Long at the Hawks, who have been fantastic confidantes for him in his early months in the brown and gold.
“I feel comfortable around them, if I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, I can go and chat to them. I’ve also been trying to make some new connections as well. Some of the younger boys like Jackson Callow who last year was a mid-season selection, James Blanck as well, they both know what I’m going through.”
Ramsden has now played a handful of games for Hawthorn’s VFL affiliate, Box Hill and has improved in every game he has played.
The Hawks managed him through his first few weeks at the club, opting to build up his training loads before unleashing him in match play.
“They were just being cautious, not getting injured early on. I have a tendinopathy in my knee that was flaring up a bit due to the increased load.
“The biggest difference between AFL and NAB League is the amounts of training. A training day is all day in the AFL. Training, gym, more footy stuff, recovery, rather than just rocking up, doing your training and going home. There’s no messing around, onto the next drill, everyone’s talking and up and about.”
Ramsden played his best game for Box Hill on the weekend, racking up 20 disposals, 12 hitouts and a goal against the Frankston Dolphins.
Hawthorn Development Coach Andy Otten said Ramsden’s match was “outstanding” and “his best game of the year by a mile”.
Ramsden’s long-term goal is to earn an AFL debut, but he’s focussed on putting a strong foot forward in everything he does right now.
“Long term goal is to get an AFL debut and to play consistently. It’s hard to put a label on what I would consider a good career, but if I can reach my ceiling and potential then I’d be happy. I think I have a lot of room to grow.”
It’s fair to say the sky is the limit for big Max Ramsden and we can’t wait to see what he does in the brown and gold.