Leigh Newton went from reserve grade at Albury to winning the Ovens and Murray League's Morris Medal the next year to an AFL debut about six months later.
Not a bad effort for a uni student, who was up to 10kgs overweight at one stage in Albury and really only played for the social side.
"I just liked footy for the camaraderie and have a few beers after the game," he said.
"I was used to training Tuesday and Thursdays at King Valley and probably the diet wasn't that great, fish and chips on a Friday night."
Newton was from the tiny village of Whitfield (population just over 200), about 50 kms from Wangaratta.
He first come to the region's attention when he kicked 11 goals for King Valley against Chiltern in the 1993 Ovens and King's thirds grand final.
Fellow giant Mark Porter also played for King Valley that day, so it's remarkable that two towering kids from the juniors would one day play AFL.
(And you can only imagine how the Chiltern kids must have felt when Newton, who grew to 200cms, and Porter, who reached 199cms, took their places that day).
The next year Newton joined the region's representative under 18 side, the Murray Bushrangers, and moved to Albury to study marketing and accountancy at Charles Sturt University.
The Tigers' home of Albury Sportsground was within walking distance and Newton didn't have a car, so that was good enough for him.
In his first game for Albury's reserves, he dislocated his shoulder, missing 10 weeks.
When he came back, he dislocated the same shoulder again, quickly earning the nickname 'Riggsy' after the Mel Gibson character Martin Riggs from the enormously popular Lethal Weapon movies.
Riggs was able to dislocate his shoulder and 'pop' it back in.
Newton had a reconstruction on the left shoulder at the end of '94 and was throwing himself into the uni lifestyle.
"I put on weight and was unfit," he admitted.
"I played a few senior games in 1995, I played a final at North Albury and was an emergency for the grand final (against Wodonga).
"We had Ken Howe (who won the Morris Medal that year) in the ruck and Corey Whittaker was the back-up ruckman.
"We also had 'Stevo' (ex-North Melbourne player Jamie Stevenson) and 'Harro' (also ex-North player Darren Harris) so we had plenty of big guys in the team.
"In the two or three senior games I played late in the year, I felt I could play at that level."
The 19-year-old decided he had to do a pre-season and elected against heading home to Whitfield.
"It was my first senior pre-season and I remember my first weights session in November was a real go-go-go and about halfway through, I had to go out and have a spew (laughs), so I knew I was in for a long summer," he said.
"But by March, I was fit, I suppose it was maturity going from a boy to a man, I suppose."
Off the field, Newton also 'grew up' pretty quickly when he and his uni mates hosted a house party.
"There were blokes from the club like Matt Fowler, Jason Bennie and 'Turk' (David King), they all lived nearby and rocked up and during the day, 'Jezza' (Jeremy Masterson) and 'Micki' (Michael Buchanan) and Kenny (Howe) turned up.
Masterson and Buchanan, in particular, carried a reputation for having fun.
"It was nothing ridiculous, just wrestling and having fun and by the end of the day the furniture wasn't really in good nick and there were a couple of knives and forks sticking out of the walls, they were like big 10-year-olds really," he laughed.
So the 'King Valley Kid' saw life on and off the field. Now he just needed to learn the ruck craft.
"When I played at King Valley, the Bushrangers, to an extent, and in Albury's reserves at times, I played forward, either centre half-forward or full-forward," he said.
'I'd only really started working out how to take a centre bounce, positioning your body to protect yourself, and by playing forward for much of my career I probably had better skills than most ruckmen as we all get put in the same basket (as not the most skilful players) (laughs)."
Newton's obviously a quick learner because he bolted in the Morris Medal by eight votes.
"I hadn't thought about it and being a uni student, I didn't even have a tie and had to borrow one off a mate," he said.
"I went along and thought, 'oh geez, this is going well' and after winning I rang my folks, mum (Errollee) and dad Laurie, (a former Wangaratta premiership player and King Valley player) at about 11.30pm and told them."
It was one of the most meteoric rises in league history, but there was more fun to be had, although Newton was battling to overcome a knee injury to play in the grand final against Lavington after missing a handful of the earlier finals.
But he took his place for the Tigers as they upset Lavington by 23 points.
Despite his remarkable season, Newton had given no thought he could lift a few more levels and play AFL.
He still didn't think it when Melbourne invited him for a pre-season.
"I never wanted to go to Melbourne, that's why I went to Albury," he said.
"But I thought, 'I'm down here for a reason, I'll train, diet properly, do all the extras'.
Suddenly, the light-bulb moment arrived.
"It was probably in the first few weeks when I got a bit of confidence that I could play at that level," he said.
He was picked at No.3 in the pre-season draft by the Demons, but only after St Kilda had called him 48 hours earlier to say it would choose him at four, if Melbourne overlooked him.
"That might have worked out better as St Kilda made the grand final that year," he quipped.
Newton played the pre-season games for the Demons and was hoping to debut in the season opener, but had to wait until round three, in captain Garry Lyon's 200th game, booting a goal with his first kick against two-time All-Australian captain Paul Roos.
"I went for a contest and the ball spilt, I just ran to the other side of the ground and he (Roos) was probably a few metres off me and I took the mark around 50m out and just went back and kicked it," he said.
But it was a horror year, coach Neil Balme was sacked and the club ran last.
Still, Newton wasn't on the list in January, so 13 games was a bonus, although he struggled late with oestitis pubis.
He didn't play a game in 1998 and when combined with a shoulder problem in '99, he retired - at just 23 -(although he played in a flag at Milawa in 2009).
"These days when you get signs of oestitis pubis you rest, but those days you just kept going," he said.
"I'd had four or five groin operations and a couple of times had to get an injection between the pubic bone and you'd look at the roof because you didn't want to see the needle sticking out."
Newton spent 12 years in the system, including a stint as Demons' media manager and ruck coach at both Melbourne and Hawthorn.
He then spent two years out of sport, starting a family with wife Aingela. The pair has two children, Lachlan, five and Taylor, three.
After a stint with Moonee Valley Racing Club, Newton joined Echuca Racing Club as chief executive, winning Victoria Country Racing Club of the Year.
And just last year Melbourne-based Newton became Country Racing Victoria regional service manager, working in areas including governance.
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So does he think about what if his career wasn't cruelled by oestitis pubis?
"I was a uni student and 12 months later I was playing AFL," he said positively.