Jack Diebold believes the last two seasons cultivating his game in the Newcastle competition have turned him into a better player.
The 19-year old is back in the Oxley Vale Attunga red, older, wiser, stronger and arguably a more complete player.
"It definitely changed me. It's just such a different competition," he said.
Diebold played two seasons with the Mushies in the Northern Inland Premier League, before moving down to Newcastle to further his development.
"I pretty much went down there for football. I wanted to take it further," he said.
Playing for the Lake Macquarie City Roosters, in the under-18s in his first season and then the 18s and first grade last season, Diebold was exposed to "a lot of good players"
"Some of the people I was playing with and against were ex-A League players," he said.
Being surrounded by such quality was bound to have an impact, and Diebold "loved it" and learnt a lot.
He spoke about reading the game a lot better now.
Only 15 when he made his first grade debut for the Mushies, who were at that stage in the midst of the their premiership three-peat, he admitted it was a bit daunting at the start.
"Once you have a few games you get used to it," he said.
It was still a baptism of fire when he was called-up to make his first grade debut for the Roosters.
Admitting he wasn't prepared for the physicality of first grade, it was memorable, although not for the reasons he would like.
Coming on as a sub, Diebold was in the act of going up for a header "kicked in the nose".
Fortunately he was able to return, albeit with a couple of tissues stuck up his nose to stop the bleeding.
He was pretty happy with how her performed over the two seasons. He was the leading goalscorer for his 18s team last year slotting 22 goals for the season.
Noted more as a striker, Diebold did spend a bit of time up the back during his time with the Roosters. And while he didn't hate it, he is happy to be back playing a more attacking role with Mushies coach Mitchell O'Keefe employing him as an attacking midfielder.
The side has changed a lot in the two years since Diebold last played for the Mushies but a lot of the faces are familiar from junior and school soccer.
One of their best in their season opening win over East Armidale, he was originally going to play with the Roosters this season but decided instead to come home to Tamworth for a gap year, or gap six months in this case.
The plan is to head over the US in August to play soccer with a college over there.
The Mushies have a double header this weekend hosting North Armidale on Saturday before facing North Companions on Sunday.