Drew Petrie says lining up for Ballarat Swans in the Ballarat Football League on Saturday is an ideal way to round out his playing career.
Although he is planning to make other on-field guest appearances around the country, Petrie said this game ensured he fulfilled an ambition to play in the red and white of the Swans one more time after playing all his junior football with the club.
He said he always wanted an outing with Ballarat to be the first of any games he played after his AFL career ended last year.
Petrie said this would be the most important of any games he played into the future.
A veteran of 332 AFL games with North Melbourne (316) and West Coast Eagles (16), this will be his senior debut in the BFL.
Petrie has not played for the Swans since 1999, when while with the North Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup under-18s he sat on the bench for one reserves game to qualify the club for financial bonuses if he played in the AFL.
The Kangaroos drafted him in 2000 and he made his AFL debut in 2001.
The Perth-based Petrie said playing for Ballarat against old rival Redan would be a special moment.
He said on arriving at Alfredton Reserve on Friday that he was already feeling sentimental about the approaching game at the venue.
“It’s starting to feel more real now.”
Petrie, 35, is not expecting to make a big impact on the game.
“I’m hoping to contribute,’’ said Petrie, who is expected to spend most of the day in the forward line.
Ballarat club president Darren Fraser said he expected the team to stand taller with Petrie on the ground. “The boys can’t wait.
“We’re super proud to have him back.”
Fraser said the Swans had once harboured thoughts of getting Petrie in a permanent role at the end of his AFL career, but the move to Western Australia after his departured from North Melbourne meant it was not to be.
Petrie, who has leadership roles with the West Coast Eagles in female and indigenous programs, said with his family enjoying life in Perth that was where he saw his future for the timebeing.