Cal McClay arrived at his first Albury training session as a big raw-boned kid from Wakool, near Deniliquin.
He was a boarder at The Scots Albury and footy clubs being footy clubs, blokes are always on the lookout to take the mickey.
"I got a little flak at the start, you know the private school thing because Albury High School was associated with Albury footy club," he said.
During Year 12, the old boxing troupe rumbled through town and this 191cm kid thought he'd have a crack.
"I had a fight against one of the rugby league blokes and beat him up in front of the Albury Tigers' lads when I was a boy and I was the only one from the footy club to get up and have a go," he offered.
"The tone changed a little bit after that, the jibes were a little bit different (laughs)."
They say you have to be wary of the quiet ones and while McClay would never go looking for a fight, he would never back down either.
"I was never a talented kid, I was always on the fringes, I was more of a battler," he admitted.
"I was a crash and bash ruckman and just had to pave the way for guys who were actually good at football, I suppose.
"But Albury was awesome, it was like a family away from my family."
After three years with the Tigers, McClay moved to the Batemans Bay Seahawks, the club his father Robin helped start and was the inaugural captain.
And he also captained the club, to the 2004 premiership - at just 21.
"I really enjoyed those couple of years, the footy was trashy, we thought we were legends when we won it (though), for sure," he laughed.
His former coach at Albury in 2000 - Michael 'Micki' Buchanan - was keen to get him back to the region and McClay followed his feisty mentor to Hume League club Osborne.
"That was probably my most enjoyable year of footy ever," he exclaimed excitedly.
"We were successful, there was no real pressure, it was an awesome team.
"'We'd do a short skills session on the Thursday night and then there'd be scotch fillet steak sangers that the old farm boys would cook up, a few beers and back into town."
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The combination of steak and getting on the sauce certainly agreed with McClay, who won the league's Azzi Medal and the flag in 2005.
"He was probably the difference that year," Buchanan said.
"He intimidated the opposition and could back it up too."
But not everything went perfectly.
"The day after the grand final I went to sleep on the rubdown table," he recalled.
Buchanan takes up the story.
"A few of the young guys thought it would be a good idea to get the strapping tape and tie Cal down on the table. I warned them, I said, 'it's probably not going to be a good idea, he will wake up you know', but they went on regardless," he remembered.
So you obviously had a lot of respect around the club?
"(Laughs loudly) Yeah, that's right."
At this stage, McClay is still asleep.
"Apparently, they have carried me out onto the oval, still strapped to the table, and thrown a bucket of ice over me," he said.
You've got to remember McClay is around six-foot four on the old scale and 108 kilograms (17 stone).
"He was coming too and started to wriggle and then realised what was going on," Buchanan said.
"Within the blink of an eye, he just completely busted out of the tape."
They say it was a combination of The Incredible Hulk and the Tassie Devil.
"There was a guy called Dave Redman, he was walking around in the nude by the way, but Cal was free and poor old Dave, who was a classic bloke, happened to be walking past and Cal let go with a right jab to Dave's head and Dave said, 'I had nothing to do with it'," Buchanan laughed loudly.
McClay says Buchanan was a role model and for those who know the likeable larrikin, that's not necessarily a good thing.
"I think he's Irish Catholic descent and I'm Irish as well, we're of a similar ilk so we get along pretty well, he was always someone you could rely on to get you through," he praised.
But after that fun year McClay wanted to 'tick the box' by having a red-hot crack in the O and M.
And he went to Albury's Morris medallist Ken Howe.
"I wanted to win a best and fairest in the O and M and my ultimate, ultimate goal was to win the Morris Medal like Kenny," he said.
"He taught me lots, just toughness in the ruck, the technical side of it as well, he showed me how to be a good ruckman and be aggressive and effective.
"I aspired to do what he did, but I didn't quite get there."
Still, McClay was a premiership player in 2009, just like his ruck mentor years earlier.
"That was probably as good as it was going to get for me," he said.
And five-time Albury premiership coach Paul Spargo was also able to get the best from his young firebrand.
"'Spargs' knew how to get me fired up, but also keep me under control and was instrumental in my development personally and in my footy," McClay declared.
The following pre-season the big man did his knee and, at just 27, the career was largely over.
He moved to Western Australia in 2012 and "disappeared" off social media, working in the mines at Karratha before shifting to Perth in construction.
Thirty-eight tomorrow, McClay is married to Cerryn with childen, Ivy, eight, Hamish, six, and Beau, four.
Apart from family and work, he loves spearfishing, where he's comes across a host of sharks.
"I haven't been in with a big (great) white (shark) or tiger (shark), but they're usually trying to take your fish more than you," he laughed.
If it came to the crunch though, you'd probably back McClay - just ask the rugby league player 20 years ago.