FOOTBALL coaching's consumed Gerard FitzGerald's weekends for four decades.
Now, with the likely end of his decorated career on the horizon, the 64-year-old plans to fill the void with travel.
Top of the agenda? "Seeing more of Australia".
"Once I adjust to life without coaching, my wife Loretta and I would like to travel," he told The Standard after announcing his decision to step down as Hamilton Kangaroos mentor at the end of the Hampden league season.
"My family has sacrificed a lot to allow me to continue to follow my passion which has been coaching. At times there is a human cost to that and the freeing up of time will mean I can do some of those things."
FitzGerald is a man of many hats - father, grandfather, teacher, farmer and coach.
His two sons Michael and Tim, along with Loretta, run the family farm between Derrinallum and Darlington.
Daughter Kate is an architect in Perth.
He is a grandfather of two with "two more not far away".
More time with his loved ones is part of FitzGerald's decision to step away too.
"Most people who I know take the weekends for granted but the most important day of my working life as a coach is on one day of the weekend," he said.
"At community level it's usually a Saturday but Sunday is usually affected by whatever the result was.
"It becomes an all-consuming position in many ways."
FitzGerald got into coaching in 1981 - the same year he married Loretta.
Both have been constants in his life ever since.
Loretta's support was crucial when he became a full-time coach at VFL club North Ballarat in the late 1990s.
He had stints with Springvale and Port Melbourne and NAB League club GWV Rebels in the early-to-mid 2000s before rejoining the Roosters in 2007.
The decision paid off with FitzGerald taking them to three consecutive premierships from 2008-10.
"The principles of how I coach haven't changed but you have to change with the game and as people change," he said of his longevity in the game.
"The principles of how I deal with my people in a considered, respectful and caring way has never changed.
"I have enjoyed working through those changes. One thing I will miss about coaching is working with young people because young people keep you energised and keep you contemporary."
Taking an interest in those around him - players, coaching staff and club volunteers - has been crucial to the former schoolteacher's success.
"Way back when I first started coaching I had an interest in my players on and off the field even as a young coach in 1981," he said.
"I still have the same intense passion for my players and staff, both inside and outside the game. As a result I have developed some wonderful relationships.
"Even in the brief time at Hamilton and the on again, off again nature of the last couple of years (due to COVID-19), I have developed relationships I will continue to enjoy."
FitzGerald, who cited the burden of a three-hour round trip to training for his decision to stand aside, will remain involved with the Kangaroos.
"I hope I can play an important role into the transition for the next coach," he said.
"I have offered for the new coach, if it's appropriate, to be a mentor and a confidante.
"That requested was welcomed which I appreciated."