DOB: 8 November 1985
Died: 28 October 2018
From: Merbein/Bendigo U18, Selection 3, 2003 National Draft
Number: 12 2004-2013
Games: 157 (163 total)
Goals: 129 (130 total)
Sylvia's last season in the TAC Cup underlined why he was such a highly sought after selection in that year's draft. Despite fighting a two year battle with osteitis pubis he won the Bendigo Pioneers best and fairest, All-Australian selection and a TAC Cup coaches award. He recorded the best standing vertical jump at draft camp, and was in the top ten percent for running vertical jumps. Before joining the Under 18 program he'd played in a Merbein premiership at 15-years-old.
After beginning his first pre-season a month late, still suffering the effects of his injury, Sylvia debuted in round 9 but was out of the side again until the round 21 loss to Carlton, where he achieved the rare feat of kicking a goal with his first kick in league football - in his second game after failing to rack up a kick in his first match.
Sixteen games in his second year, and seventeen including two finals in 2006 featured flashes of the brilliance which he had promised when drafted but Sylvia found it difficult to stamp his influence on the game and for most of his early career was compared unfavourably to Brock McLean who had been selected two spots after him in the draft. His commitment had been questioned, and in the 2006 pre-season he was involved in an public altercation with his then girlfriend which ended in a court appearance and a $2000 fine from the club.
The 2007 and 2008 seasons continued to frustrate as Sylvia was thrown forward with patchy results and continued to show only glimpses of his true talents in the midfield. He played 16 and 18 games respectively but was far from his side's best in either year, and as the Demons crashed to a wooden spoon he was suddenly in danger of becoming one of the great draft 'busts' of the modern era.
During the 2009 pre-season he was fined $5000 by the club for turning up to training in an 'unfit' state, and it was later revealed that a 2007 session had seen his teammates label Sylvia as the player they trusted the least. From an inauspicious start, 2009 would end up being the breakout season that fans had been waiting almost five years to see. In 17 games he achieved career highs for disposals, goals and tackles, earning his first Brownlow Medal votes along the way. At the end of the year he signed a new two year deal with the club.
Sylvia suffered a broken jaw in a 2010 pre-season match against West Coast courtesy of a hard bump by Eagle Josh Kennedy which caused him to miss the start of the premiership season. He returned to kick a career high five goals in the Round 5 victory over Richmond and despite only playing 15 games for the season - the lowest total since his debut season, not helped by missing three weeks after suffering a blood clot in his toe - improved even further on his performances in '09 to become one of the true superstars of his side.
In 2011 he was alternatively brilliant and frustrating, kicking a single goal in 12 of his 19 matches for the year but also booting bags of 4, 4 and 5 and regularly racking up 20 touches. He saved his best game for last when he had 29 possessions and five goals against Richmond in Round 22, but a striking charge saw him outed for two matches which ended his year.
Despite rumours that he was on Sydney's radar at the end of 2011, Sylvia signed a two years contract extension with the Demons late in the season. He was named in the International Rules squad for that year's home series against Ireland but was dropped after an incident involving Sylvia being the passenger in a car which had an early morning accident. He was fined $5000 and suspended from Round 1, 2012 for breaking team rules.
Sylvia's start to the new season was delayed even further when he suffered fractures in his back after being collected heavily during a practice match against Port Adelaide. After returning to the side as substitute in Round 5 he played a steady but unspectacular season before coming back into good form towards the end of the year.
At the end of the season he joined Fremantle as an unrestricted free agent, where he had to wait until the second half of 2014 to make his debut. After a decade of being a regular in the Melbourne side he struggled to just six games for the year and was delisted early in the 2015 season. He played a one-off game for Templestowe in the Eastern Football League after his delisting. He returned to Merbein in 2016, before leaving midway through the season to join Murrumbeena. In 2018 he was an assistant coach at Meringur.
Sylvia passed away in a road accident shortly before his 33rd birthday.
|Round 6, 2007||Front-On Contact||Reprimand|
|Round 14, 2007||Wrestling||Withdrawn|
|Round 15, 2008||Striking||Reprimand|
|Round 14, 2009||Striking||3 matches|
|Round 10, 2011||Umpire Contact||$900 fine|
|Round 22, 2011||Striking||2 matches|
|Round 1, 2013||Striking||Reprimand|
|Round 7, 2013||High Contact||3 matches|