Gary Ablett was just a kid when he first set foot in Myrtleford, but last night the dual Brownlow Medallist returned.
The retired Cats star visited McNamara Reserve to speak to players and supporters at the club his father played at almost 40 years ago.
Ablett took the opportunity to take a walk down memory lane.
"It's nice to be back up here," he said.
"(Ian Wales) took me past where my dad and mum lived when they were here in 1983, which was pretty special.
"I took a video of that and sent it to mum and dad, I'm sure that'll bring back memories for them.
"I think the first time I came here I would have been 11 or 12 when dad was here to see some friends."
The tales of the year Gary senior took the Ovens and Murray league by storm still live on.
"I've heard plenty of stories, but I don't know how many of them are true," Ablett said
"He had a really good season that year and the Geelong recruiters came and had a look at him halfway through the season.
"He grew up in a little country town and I think part of the reason he left Hawthorn was because he struggled with the city life at the time.
"I think even at that time it was hard to convince him to go to Geelong, but he's said to me he made the right decision."
The visit also marked a reunion for Ablett and former Geelong teammate Dawson Simpson.
The former Greater Western Sydney ruckman took the Saints through training as Ablett looked on.
"Dawson and I spent five or six years together at Geelong and he's a great guy," Ablett said.
He admitted giving back and visiting communities like Myrtleford is something he looks forward to.
"I grew up supporting the Geelong Football Club and anytime they would come out to our school or run a clinic, I knew how much that meant to me as a kid," he said.
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"Now that I've retired I've got the time.
"I'll continue to do that over the next 24 months to see some small towns I've never really seen before."
With his AFL playing days now behind him, Ablett said he's enjoying spending time with his family.
"I'm looking forward to spending more time with my little boy Levi and my wife Jordan," he said.
"Footy can be pretty demanding at times, so I enjoy just getting up in the morning and doing things in my own time."
However, the Geelong star still plans on keeping a close eye on his beloved Cats.
"I still speak to the guys all the time," he said.
"I won't be at the club in an official role, but I'll spend some time helping the younger guys develop and just investing that time into them."
Myrtleford president Ian Wales said around 150 tickets had been sold for Ablett's appearance.
It comes following the postponement of his initial visit, which was set to take place last month.
"The tickets were held over and everyone was quite happy to leave it there until he came back," Wales said.
"He said right from the start that he'll do it."
Wales, who is a long-time friend of Gary senior, admitted it was great to see Ablett return to the town.
"When I picked him up we were talking about how he was 11 or 12 at the time and him, Nathan and Gary stayed at my place for about a week," Wales said.
"He (Ablett) said he forgot how beautiful it is here."
After COVID-19 derailed last year's season, Wales said the club is looking forward to a return to footy.
"After last year we just hope that everything works," he said.
"It should be a great year ahead."
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