KEN Cummings is the first to admit his brief stint at Hepburn a few years ago didn’t work.
A young, immature Cummings landed at the Burras from arch-rival Daylesford in 2007, but spent just the first half of the season there before things went awry.
Cummings cast his mind back to that time and admits it was a move that was far from a good fit.
“I didn’t belong with a few of the people there and just needed to have a bit of time off, I think,” Cummings said.
“I was just young then and I was a bit of a (rebel), so I left on bad terms last time.”
Cummings’ return to Daylesford the following year was met with more disappointment at the hands of Hepburn, which beat the Bulldogs in the senior grand final by 60 points.
A move to Kyneton with brother and current Daylesford captain Michael followed in 2009 – where he won a club best and fairest – before two seasons with Castlemaine.
After a year with Mt Pleasant in the Heathcote District competition, Cummings then decided to take some time away from the game.
That was until Hepburn came knocking.
“Jocks (president Jason Olver) and his brother Lindsay got onto me at the start of this year, about a month out from the season because I wasn’t going to play, and talked me around to coming back... and I haven’t looked back,” Cummings, a father of two, said.
“When I was first contacted by Jocks, I was a bit sceptical.
“I wasn’t sure whether to come back or not, but I’ve grown up since then and I’ve stressed that to them.
“It was my own doing.
“I’d like to play out the rest of my career at Hepburn. It’s close to home – I only live 500 metres up the road from the Hepburn footy oval.
“They are pretty good with the kids. If I need to take a day off training or anything like that they are pretty good.
“If I am running late, they know it’s because I’ve got kids.
“I nearly wasn’t going to play because of the kids this year, but it’s only a short time in your life that you are going to be playing. Every Saturday when I’m walking out of the door, the kids say to me ‘kick me a goal’ so I’ve got that in the back of my head.”
Cummings has flourished in his return to Hepburn, with a standout season on the wing landing him a spot in the Central Highlands Football League team of the year.
The 25-year-old credits his run of consistent form to a settled life away from football and the positional freedom afforded to him by coach Clive Raak.
“It’s a credit to the coach because I’m more of a forward and I’ve swapped in the midfield, but this year (Raak) has put me flat on the wing,” he said.
“He has sort of accommodated it a lot so I can go back and forward and it has played out good for me,” he said.
“I’m playing some of the best footy I’ve played. It’s the perfect position for me.
“I get along with everyone at the footy club and there is a real good bunch of blokes (there).
“I’m in a good job, everything is going good for me.
“I’ve built a house, got the kids and it’s all good for me.”
And while personal accolades are always nice, it’s the team success that Cummings craves.
The fourth-year apprentice builder has only an under-12 premiership medallion in his trophy cabinet, having played in three grand final defeats while with Daylesford.
So it’s no surprise that tomorrow’s decider against Buninyong holds great significance.
“You can win best and fairests, but that’s your own doing,” Cummings said.
“Win a grand final and you can talk about it in the pub or in public forever.
“Amongst your mates, you can’t go bragging about a best and fairest.
“It’s the pinnacle. That’s what you play for and I haven’t got one yet so it means the world.
“I definitely feel we’ve got the team to do it.
“I’ve said it ever since the start.”