HOMECOMING has been sweet for Steve Clifton.
Club recognition came on a night when North Ballarat Roosters announced Clifton would be leaving the fold once more, this time for an overseas adventure.
Clifton was awarded the Allen L Stott Memorial Medal as the Roosters' best and fairest player on Saturday night.
It is an honour he first won in 2010, the year he shared JJ Liston Trophy honours as the Victorian Football League's best and fairest player and the year he was drafted.
The tough, hard-working midfielder picked up at Eureka Stadium this season where he had left off, only with a little more football smarts and fitness evident from the two years he spent with AFL franchise Greater Western Sydney.
He shared a second Liston, this time with rising AFL stars Mitch Hallahan (Hawthorn) and Jordan Schroder (Geelong).
Now Clifton will join teammates and fellow decorated midfielder Myles Sewell on an exciting worldwide journey.
The 26-year-old said it was a tough decision but he would definitely be back.
"Myles and I not playing football for a year, I supposed it's about timing," Clifton said.
"Both of us are young and it's a chance to go overseas for the experience.
"It's an opportunity to go and comeback and still play football with North Ballarat (Roosters) because we both think we've still got some football left in us.
"And what better place than North Ballarat to come back and play footy again."
The pair, who leave early next year, leave a gaping hole for the Roosters to fill.
Between them, they have shared the past five Roosters' Stott medals.
The vote count was tight this season. Clifton polled 193 votes in a close tally ahead of North Melbourne-listed runner-up Liam Anthony and third-placed Sewell.
He said the even spread of votes highlighted how well each player did his role for the team.
"This is an honour. Allen Stott is one of the great contributors of the North Ballarat Football Club," Clifton said.
"It's an honour to play with the calibre of boys that I played with each week."
It has been a big season for Clifton, who also represented the VFL in an interstate clash against West Australian Football League.
Clifton was also awarded the Polkinghorne Award for most valuable player as voted by his teammates.
Callum Currie captured the Hugh McDonald Memorial Trophy as the Roosters' development team best and fairest.
The team will be disbanded next year, with Roosters-listed developing players to instead suit up in Ballarat leagues.