Simon Kenny was captain of the Queensland under 15 Shell Cup team which was travelling to the national titles in Hobart.
Like so many teenagers, most were worried about some of the outstanding players they had heard about in the stronger football States.
But Kenny had more on his mind. He had just become a father.
"The girl was a little bit older (16) and we had actually separated and I was then informed that she was pregnant," he said.
"I remember having to tell my family. I was sitting at the dinner table and mum (Dianne) had married for a second time about 10 months earlier to an Englishman by the name of Eric, who was a lovely guy. Eric liked a few drinks and he'd had a couple and I said to mum, 'I've got some news' and she said, 'what's that'? And I told her and Eric looked at me with a big grin on his face and he said, 'we'll have to deduct $5 out of your pocket money to support your child' and started laughing, it broke the ice I guess.
"I guess looking back mate, it wasn't something that I was proud of."
As we all know, life has its moments, its challenges. But after talking to Kenny this week, you realise some have it a lot tougher.
Mind you, the 50-year-old knows a lot of his issues are self-inflicted. When we first started talking he said, 'I'm an open book, you can ask me anything'.
One of the first aspects of Kenny that strikes you is his laugh. He'll tell a story where plenty would cry, but he's maintained his sense of humour. And, God knows, it would have been his saving grace at times.
Life wasn't meant to be like this. Kenny just thought he'd always be destined to be an AFL player.
He made the All-Australian Teal Cup team in 1987, alongside a strong Corowa kid called John Longmire.
"That jumper's now in my grandma's coffin, I put it in there when she passed away in 1990," he said sadly.
"She was a big part of my life and supported my footy, both my nan and pop did."
Around half that junior rep team played at the highest level, including Longmire and Jose Romero.
Four years later, he was playing the best football of his life at Brisbane club Kedron Grange.
"My senior coach was Geoff Jennings, who played with Footscray (137 games and captain 1979-81) and he was great mates with Teddy Whitten Jr," he said.
"I got approached and was told Footscray is thinking about picking me up in the mid-season draft and asked, 'would you like to go to Melbourne and try for the big league'? I was the happiest man in the world and was told, 'you can't tell anyone, keep it to yourself'.
"I was at work some time later and received a call from the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper and was told I'd been picked up by the Brisbane Bears (No.14).
"I spoke to the club and they wanted me to play the last nine games and I said I just wanted to play out the year with Kedron, but I was basically talked into going down and playing those games.
"There was one memorable game at Carrara, we were playing Collingwood and were eight goals up at half-time and ended up getting beaten by eight points.
"Rodney Eade gave me the biggest bake I've ever had in my life, mind you, I had the ball 52 times.
"He tore strips off me and from that day I lost respect for him.
"I was named emergency for a final and then a sliding doors moment happened.
"I was dating a girl and we were probably five to 10 minutes on the road heading to Carrara and she said she had forgotten tickets for her friends. I said, 'I need to get to the ground, we've got a team meeting'. Anyway she got her way, we went back to get the tickets and I reckon I was two minutes late.
"I knocked on the door of the team meeting and it was like everyone looked at me mate, including Rodney Eade. After the meeting we all started to walk out and he (Eade) said, 'why were you late'? I explained the situation and he said, 'if you had been on time, you would have been in the team, because such and such wouldn't because he was late as well, but was earlier than you were'."
The Bears went on to win the premiership against Melbourne. Kenny didn't bother going.
Kenny's dreams were over and after meeting former North Albury players Matthew Chilcott and Marty Cross Jr at pre-season training in Brisbane, he was soon headed south.
"I actually spoke to both Albury and North Albury and had a gentleman's agreement to play with Albury, although I hadn't signed anything," he said.
"That's when Bernie Bell and (former St Kilda player) Ian 'Doggie' Rowland became involved.
"Doggie' remains a fantastic bloke and Bernie had a presence. It was the way he carried himself and the clarity of his words, he was big on visualisation, actually seeing yourself doing it and I'd never come across that.
"The Albury deal was better, but where I was in my life and football, North Albury suited me better."
Albury won the next three premierships and the Tigers gave it to the classy and clever defender.
"Mate, it was nearly every game," he said.
"It was a fierce rivalry against Albury, but they're good blokes. 'Micki' (Michael Buchanan) is a champion fellow, he was as hard as a cat's head playing footy, Jeremy Masterson another, I respected him immensely, Matt Fowler another, Marc Duryea also."
But revenge was sweet when the Hoppers' captain snapped a 15-year premiership drought in 1999 against Albury.
"There was an incident in the last term and the game was still in the balance and we kicked a goal and then another and then another and within the blink of an eye, the game was basically out of Albury's reach," he said enthusiastically.
"I guess the biggest thing for me was going back to the club and seeing North Albury like I'd never seen it before, there were people everywhere.
"Apart from the birth of my children, it's probably the biggest highlight of my life."
A year later, the Hoppers faced Corowa-Rutherglen in the grand final.
'(Coach) Ernie (Whitehead) invited wives, relatives to wish us luck," he said.
"He's opened up the doors and everyone's partners, mums, dads come in and I'm standing there and there was nobody, my partner and mum weren't there, I'm thinking, 'what the'.
"Anyway it was Tony Trevaskis's 100th game, he led us out, and I'm sure if you look at the footage, I was the last one out and was bawling my eyes out.
"Mentally, I wasn't in a good place away from football and my game was gone before I'd even played."
The Hoppers suffered a record 108-point loss. Soon after, the skipper was gone.
"I wanted to stay, but was out of contract and I'd approached the football club about a little extra money and the club said they would look into it. The club never got back to me," he said.
The six-season stint, which included a best and fairest and Ovens and Murray representation, was over.
"I've never come across a more vocal team-mate, he was always encouraging and directing, I'd certainly say he was the best captain that I ever played with," premiership team-mate and former North Melbourne defender Mark Hilton said.
Hume League outfit Brocklesby had been chasing him for three years.
"They came around with 40 $100 notes and my partner at the time grabbed the money and said, 'he'll sign' (laughs). I wasn't with her much longer after that (laughs)," he said.
It was a tough three years as coach of the battling outfit.
"I remember the treasurer, who was a lovely guy, I said to him at one stage, 'can we buy some weights'? He said, 'to do what, Simon'? I said, 'for some weightlifting during pre-season training'. He said, 'why can't you use bricks'? I said, 'fair enough, but what about some punching bags, can we buy some punching bags'? He said, 'why'? I said, 'so we can do some boxing training'. He said, 'why can't we fill some hessian bags with sand'? (laughs extremely loudly).
He was an assistant coach to Steve Hetherton at Jindera and also had a three-year deal at Finley, but quit after one year in 2009.
But that was a walk in the park compared with the challenge he had been facing off the field for two years.
"There was a breakdown in a relationship with a woman I had two girls with and I approached the mum and said, 'I need to get the girls away, I'll take them to Queensland and you need to do what you need to do and we'll be up there waiting for you'," he explained.
'I was living with my sister for six months and sadly, I let the mum take the girls out for lunch one day when she was up there visiting and she didn't bring them back.
"With the help of my mum and her partner, we fought them in court and, sadly, they (the court) gave them back to the mum.
"Two years later I got a call from the Department of Child Services telling me that I needed to step up to the plate.
"My response was, 'if you want me to stand up to the plate, there's no shared care, my children come to live with me in Queensland while their mum sorts her stuff out'.
"In November, 2016, we got together in a room, the child services, and agreed that both children would come up and live with me, there was a court order in place.
"About 12 months later the girls went down to visit their mum for the Christmas break and they didn't come home, so I put in a recovery order.
"I got them both back here and maybe two months later the elder daughter shot through again.
"We don't speak as much as I'd like to.
"Everyone has regrets.
"A man I respected greatly, the partner of my mother for 23 years, he passed away about four years ago, he said, 'Simon, if you put as much effort, determination and sacrifice into your personal life as you did with your football, you would have been a self-made millionaire'.
"Looking back now, I always wanted to be a footballer, I didn't have a Plan B.
"(There were times when I was lost), without a doubt, what's my purpose? Where am I going from here? Family's the most important thing in your life, the support of people who love you and care about you and want the best for you.
"My family has helped me through some pretty tough times. Mum's been my rock. I was playing senior football on the north side of Brisbane and we were living on the south side, and mum would sit in the car and watch me train for an hour and a half and drive me home. She would do that three times a week for three years, she's a legend mate."
Still in Brisbane, Kenny is a father of six to four mothers.
"In regards to where I'm at as a 50-year-old, I'm a fully qualified landscape gardener and maybe one day I might open up my own business.
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"You get perspective on life. Just recently I had a prostate (cancer) scare, I've got the all clear now.
"I'm in a really good place at the moment with a girl. She has six boys and I have six girls."
Like The Brady Bunch?
"Times two," he laughed.