"I flew her down last year and I didn't go any good mate."
The reason Paul Kelly's wife Lyndelle wasn't by his side when he accepted the biggest accolade in the AFL, the 1995 Brownlow Medal, is a little more complicated than that.
But his response on stage to a simple question from broadcaster Bruce McAvaney also summed up why he branded Wagga product Kelly's win 25 years ago as "one of the more popular wins I can remember in a long time."
It summed up the Sydney Swans captain, one of the toughest on-ballers ever seen, to a tee. Just a knockabout country bloke who happened to be good at footy.
It's that vibe which allured him to the common man, and still does to this day.
Nowadays, the 51-year-old leads a quiet life on the family farm on the outskirts of north Wagga, tending to canola crops and sheep and cattle herds.
But the night of September 1, 1995 was anything but.
After a night of solid celebrating and posing with fans with the medal at Melbourne's casino, Kelly was due to appear on a morning show on Channel Nine hosted by Ernie Sigleyand Denise Drysdale.
"I was shabby," Kelly said when asked about his state when appearing on national TV after several sleepless hours celebrating winning the medal.
"They said 'we'll fly your wife down as long as you come on the show'. So I said righto, even though we had a pretty big night. It was a mad couple of days.
"To be honest we didn't go to bed. We went down to the casino and when you think about it that wouldn't happen now."
It was about halfway through the medal count when Paul Kelly thought "jeez, I'd better get off the beers here."
A emergency visit to the tailors the day after the Brownlow Medal, bleary-eyed and dressed only in his tracksuit pants and a modest Adidas t-shirt, was deemed necessary.
If you didn't know better, Paul Kelly could have been accepting a best and fairest at Wagga Tigers, not the most prestigious individual accolade in the game.
From Swans superstar Tony 'Plugger' Lockett bellowing "you bloody ripper!" when they crossed to him at the team function in Sydney, to the mullet he sported at the time, everything about the voting aftermath encapsulated what Kelly was. A laidback, country bloke who just happened to be great at playing footy.
It was about halfway through the count when the three-time All Australian thought "jeez, I'd better slow down on the beers here."
"I went down for a few drinks and a meal and to see who won it. It ended up a lot different to that," Kelly said this week.
"Everyone goes to the Brownlow just to see someone else win it, and I was no different. My wife didn't come down as she'd just started a new job, and we were coming into holiday season and going on holidays the next week.
"We (Swans) had a pretty good finish to the year and it was halfway through the count I was thinking 'wow', I'm a chance," he said.
"With six rounds left I knew we'd won some games and I could get some twos and threes, and that's how it unfolded."
The TV cameras panned to Kelly several times in those late rounds, his fists pumping every time his named flashed up on the vote count, riding every round like he was cheering home a horse he had his last $10 on.
"I'm thinking if you're that close, you want to win it. No one remembers who comes second," he said.
"I'd imagine that's what I was doing at the time, and I did have a bit of comfort knowing I had a good last month."
It was a couple of hours which changed Kelly's life. His uncle Terry, too, a now Ballarat-based bookmaker who placed a nice wager on his nephew at 33-1 and bought a car from his winnings.
The Swans had finished last the previous three years, but had started to make some headway in 1995 by winning eight games.
Kelly agrees his country boy image does help the wider football community relate to him more than other AFL superstars with a more intimidating aura.
"I do feel that, I definitely do," he said.
"I've never got too carried away with it to be honest, it's a game of footy. Mind you, I dedicated myself to it and made lots of sacrifices, but at the end of the day it's a game of footy and it's over in ten or 15 years.
"The aerial ping pong and tight shorts, that was still Sydney people's attitude to AFL footy back then.
Almost overnight, Kelly became a huge celebrity in a city still absolutely dominated by rugby league, with the Swans little more than a weekend novelty.
"Up until that point no one was chasing the Swans for appearances. All of a sudden i was a Brownlow medallist, chances to help advertise things were coming up and your name was worth more than it was two weeks ago.
"I ended up on a billboard with Plugger for Puma King footy boots in George St in Sydney. I did some of those Lowe's ads that the big name rugby league stars were on at the time. Who would have thought there'd be a bloke from Aussie Rules doing that?"
Kelly still regards 1996 and 1997 as his best years personally in football. He jokes "if I won the medal in '95, I should have won in '97".
He polled 14 votes in 1996 and came equal third the following year with 21 votes, behind winner Robert Harvey (26) and the ineligible Chris Grant (27).
After being handed the Swans captaincy at just 23 in 1993, Kelly guided them to their first grand final in 1996, where they fell to North Melbourne.
The Swans and Aussie Rules brand in Sydney was starting to blossom, and Kelly's role as one of the early pioneers can't be understated.
"You're all about wanting to get better, and our footy club had come from a low base," he said.
"Our ressies played in the grand final that year (1995), I'd won the Brownlow and we were just starting to get going.
"I didn't worry too much about the pressures and expectations and being in Sydney probably helped me.
"It was a really good thing for the footy club because it got us on the front page, then we rolled into the next year and played a grand final. I knew what I achieved and it wasn't lost on me, the moment was great, but you still have to front up and play the next year.
"Super League was starting up in rugby league and they were looking for something else, we were filling the stands up and Plugga kicked well over 100 in 1995.
"We played Geelong at the SCG with Plugger at one end and Gary Ablett at the other for Geelong. There was 44,000 in the ground and another 6,000 in the footy stadium watching on TV across the road.
"Until Plugga got up there in 1995, no one knew anyone but Ron Barassi and myself."
Kelly and his family returned to Wagga in 2003, after serving as the Swans' runner that year and working in their corporate sector.
A plumber by trade, he was the publican at the Riverina Hotel for a few months before picking up the tools again working at his brother-in-law's kitchen renovation business.
It's far removed from the chaos of Brownlow Medal night and the doors that achievement helped open.
But Kelly was initially hesitant to move to Sydney in the first place.
Originally a keen rugby league player with Wagga Brothers, where he played as a half or fullback, Kelly eventually realised his talents were best suited to Aussie Rules and started focusing solely on the code when he was 15.
He revealed his then-manager fielded an enquiry from an interested top rugby league club along the journey, which he never divulged to Kelly himself years later, but it's safe to say he made the right decision.
"I wasn't really looking to go to Sydney, and the opportunity came up there was lots of stories about people from here trying their luck in the city and they were back in 12 months," Kelly said.
"But Dad said 'see how you go, and worst case you can just come back.
"I won the best and fairest at Wagga Tigers the year before I left. It's not like today where kids start to play footy at ten or 12 to try and play AFL footy. We were just playing footy because we loved it, but the more I put into it the better I got and it just kept going.
"With the rugby league background, you're looking for contact, and before my time in the game defence and tackling didn't seem to be a big part of Aussie Rules.
"When I got there I was looking for contact and tackles, but I probably lacked in other areas and the idea is obviously to get the footy."
Kelly's was probably too tough for his own good. He won the AFL Players' Association's most courageous player award five times - enough said.
His method was always "I'm coming for that ball and if you get in my way, good luck."
A superb overhead mark for his size, his refusal to leave on a stretcher whenever he suffered one of several long-term injuries is the stuff of legend.
He said receiving the captaincy at such a young age "helped me grow up", and by the time he played the last of his 234 games he knew his time had come.
"I was physically worn out in the end," he said.
"I'd been playing for 13 years, I had knee and shoulder reconstructions, groins and broken hands, it's all those things (adding up).
"We did it differently back then and I trained to give myself the best chance to play well, and that meant training a lot and probably not recovering as well.
"These days they do it smarter and I was confident I could have kept playing, but not at the level I wanted to be at."
These days Kelly remains involved with the Wagga Tigers, where his daughters Eliza and Maddie play netball and youngest Harry plays football.
But it would be remiss not to give the boss of the family, Lyndelle, her chance to tell the real story behind why she wasn't present on Brownlow medal night.
"I think I was the first wife of a Brownlow medallist that didn't go to the function," she said.
"I'd started a new job but asked for time off already to go on a holiday (the week after), so I didn't want to ask to go to the Brownlow as well.
"Paul and I went to the finals the weekend before down in Melbourne, and there were kids coming up to him saying 'you're going to win the Brownlow'.
"I said to Paul 'you're not going to win it are you?' and he said 'nah, it's just Melbourne people getting excited.
"I asked 'should I be going?' and he said 'no, don't worry about it.'
"It was shock when he won, the whole room couldn't believe it.