THERE wasn't much Bailey Dale couldn't do on the footy field growing up in Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs.

The Edithvale-Aspendale product was a star junior who had no trouble racking up plenty of possessions or putting the ball between the big sticks.

He won several club best and fairests, represented the under-12 Victorian school boys side and played in a senior premiership at the tender age of 16. 

But Dale's greatest footballing achievement will come on Sunday when he makes his AFL debut for the Western Bulldogs against the all-conquering Fremantle Dockers at Etihad Stadium.

And it doesn't surprise his under-11s coach Damien Harris in the slightest.

"His ball winning skills were second to none, he ran all day, read the play really well and was a standout for the Frankston Junior Football League," Harris told 

"It wouldn't be uncommon for him to rack up 35 possessions or kick seven or eight goals in a game, but his work ethic is what stood out the most.

"I always thought he'd be an AFL player." 

Slightly built as a child, Dale struggled to replicate his star pre-teen performances in the under-14s and under-15s and that saw him miss bottom age selection with the Dandenong Stingrays in the TAC Cup.

That didn't discourage the determined playmaker, as he forced his way into the 'Edi-Asp' senior side and played in the Eagles' 2013 premiership.

"The Stingrays (recruiters) came down and watched a few games and they gave me an opportunity in 2014 and I tried to make the most of that." Dale said.

And make the most of it he did, with a third placing in the Stingrays' best and fairest spearheading his move to Whitten Oval with the Bulldogs grabbing him with pick No.45 in last year's NAB AFL Draft.

After impressive form in the VFL, he'll debut in the revered No. 31 guernsey against the Dockers, made famous by a couple of Bulldog greats.

"I've been presented with my jumper by Rohan Smith who debuted in the number and Kelvin Templeton won a Brownlow and kicked 100 goals in it, so there's a fair bit of history there." Dale said proudly.

And just like the man that mentored him, Dale's latest coach is also an unabashed fan.

"He's very versatile, he's got a lot of courage and he's highly skilled," said Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge

"He has knocked down quiet a few barriers to get to this point and be considered for senior selection.

"We've picked Bailey for his first game against Fremantle, so it just shows we've got faith in him to come in and perform a role for us.

"He'll go out there and fit in quite well."