Long-time Myrtleford leader Mitch Dalbosco has opened up about his insecurities when he took over the role as a youngster at the Ovens and Murray Football League club.
Dalbosco was appointed co-captain with Matt Dussin in his early 20s and then retained the role this year with Ryley Sharp when Dussin elected to stand down.
"It was quite daunting at first, blokes who you look up to and idolise I suppose as footballers, like Brad Murray, even Matty Dussin," the well spoken 27-year-old offered.
"Even the other boys who had been there quite a while, being a young bloke, I always wanted to train and play hard and to prove myself as a leader, to back up the words I was saying to them.
"Along the way, I've definitely had my moments being captain (laughs), whether I was up to it, asking whether I was brought in too early.
"I had chats to people whenever I've been doubting myself as a leader, chat to (co-coach) Jake (Sharp) about it, he's been a really good sounding board for me, but I suppose in the last few years as I've matured more as a player and person, it's been a role I've really enjoyed and loved.
"I love trying to guide a group of players in a direction the coaches want, helping the young blokes and, at the same time, it helps hold my standards really high as a player and a person."
And the Saints are delighted with Dalbosco's development.
"Mitch is the ultimate leader," co-coach Dawson Simpson praised.
"His approach to the football club is one of absolute service.
"He does what needs to be done on and off the field and never asks for anything in return.
"A big reason why this football club is a wonderful place to be is because of Mitch Dalbosco."
The gutsy midfielder will again be tested when the Saints host premiership favorites Wangaratta on Saturday.
Dalbosco doesn't have the pace of Wangaratta's wizard Joe Richards or the silky skills of another Pie midfielder in Abraham Ankers, but he ranks in the league's top 10 in four categories.
He's fifth in clearances (79), seventh in inside 50s (66), ninth in contested possessions (122) and 10th for tackles (68).
Debuting in 2013, Dalbosco's in career best form.
"In years gone by, I've been thrown around in a couple of positions, depending on where I'm needed," he explained.
"We've got quite a solid side now, so I can play more consistently in the midfield and not get thrown around in different positions, I think that makes a massive difference."
Some feel this week's rain will help the Saints.
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"I'm not the quickest going around, so it could potentially help slow them down."
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