BRYCE Carroll still remembers.
It was January 30, 2009, and the summer sun was beaming down on the Albury Sportsground.
Flanked by Mark McVeigh and Henty’s Kade Klemke, Carroll helped run a clinic and barbecue for some of the region’s youngsters.
Little did the Essendon rookie know that five years later, he’d be a Tiger.
“Yeah, I still remember that,” Carroll, 23, recalled this week.
“I’ve really enjoyed it.
“It’s a good footy club to be a part of.”
Part of Aspley’s famous recruiting raid in late 2009, Carroll also went north when Ovens and Murray stars Matt Shir, Sam Carpenter, Tyson Hartwig and Myles Aalbers were lured by the Queensland club.
Jamie Sheahan, now with Wangaratta Rovers, was also part of that spree.
But it was Carroll’s friendship with Shir that blossomed most and ultimately led him to the Tigers.
“I played with Shirry in Queensland and always sort of stayed in contact with him,” Carroll said.
“I played with Jeremy O’Brien up there for a few games last year, too.
“But once I moved back, Shirry put in a word for me and I got a few calls and a bit of a chat to Hydey and met everyone.
“I always had a bit of a knowledge of what the league was like and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.”
Still based in Melbourne — Albury’s only city traveller — Carroll admits the weekly drive is far from ideal.
“It’s a bit of a pain but you get used to it,” Carroll said.
“It’s good footy and I’ve enjoyed that part of it.
“You sort of stop worrying about the travel after a while.”
Clearly — he hasn’t missed a game all season.
Averaging almost a goal a game, the silky-skilled midfielder has brought another dimension to the Tigers’ ball-winning brigade.
He kicked the winning goal against Lavington in last week’s preliminary and made several valuable contributions at crucial times.
And it’s only boosted his confidence for tomorrow.
“I can’t wait,” Carroll said.
“We definitely got away with it against Lavi last week but they’re a strong side.
“It was a fantastic win.
“We’re only worried about this week now, though, and it’s a grand final — anything can happen.”
As Carroll’s journey has shown, too right it can.