The wait is finally over for football starved fans on the Border.
Ovens and Murray clubs are set to ramp up their preparations and have their first hit-out in almost 12 months in the coming days.
North Albury played Yackandandah on Thursday night in the first pre-season match of the year.
Perennial powerhouse Albury will host metro club Norwood on Saturday.
Flag contender Mrytleford will play neighbouring club Bright and Wangaratta Rovers and Mooroopna will clash at Rumbalara which are also both played on Saturday.
Saints coach Jake Sharp said there was a genuine feeling of excitement in the hills that the pre-season was almost over and the season was just around the corner.
"It's fair to say the boys are up and about and there is a lot of anticipation and eagerness to be playing again," Sharp said.
"It's been a long time since we last played and it was tough watching football on TV last year and not playing.
"Mentally it's been a tough gig doing two pre-seasons in-a-row without playing.
"Pre-seasons are a grind at the best of times and they are no fun at all.
"Every club does them because you want to try and better yourself.
"But the wait is finally over."
It has been almost 12 months since football was last played on the Border.
Clubs played practice matches until mid-March last year before COVID-19 struck on the eve of the season.
The season was officially abandoned in late June.
Sharp said the Saints would use the match against Bright to have a look at their young talent in action and were set to field an under-23 side.
"We have opted to give the younger blokes on the list a chance to play," he said.
"We thought it was a good opportunity to give our younger players more game time after essentially missing a year of development.
"So they get a chance to strut their stuff in front of the coaching staff including Dawson (Simpson) and myself.
"We get to see where they are at and who is putting their hand up to be selected in the opening round against North Albury."
The Saints are set to host defending premier Lavington for their next pre-season match on March 6 and will also play Euroa at Euroa before their season opener.
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