It would be like a punch to the gut for North Tamworth supporters, but they have to face the very real possibility of Josh Schmiedel playing against the Bears next season.
The two-time NSW Country selection - who starred upon returning to Norths last season after a 10-year absence - has revealed to the Leader that he is considering finishing his career at Gunnedah next season, although he may retire now. That, however, seems to be the most unlikely of his three options.
Schmiedel's father, Mick, is Gunnedah's new coach.
Father and son played together at North Tamworth early in the latter's first-grade career, when Mick captain-coached the Bears.
Schmiedel, 32, expects 2020 to be his final season. So, understandably, playing under his dad one last time is a powerful lure.
"Dad coaching out at Gunnedah has obviously put a bit of a spanner in the works," he said.
"I don't know if I want to go out there and sort of help him do something out there, and also finish up [my career] with him, or stay with Norths, and play with a few mates, and finish up where I first started my career.
"So I'm in a bit of a pickle, which is more the reason why I might not play at all: just to save myself the hassle ... either way I go, I'll be finishing up how I started [my first-grade career] to some extent: it will either be at Norths, or with me dad. So it's a bit of a hard thing to do."
Schmiedel, a mine worker in Boggabri and a Tamworth resident, described as "50-50" his chances of remaining at North or signing with the Bulldogs.
He said that Norths coach Brad McManus had asked him if he planned to stay with Norths, but had not pressured him to remain a Bear.
"Dad hasn't really asked me [if I will play for Gunnedah]," he said, adding that his father did not want to poach players from other clubs. "If they wanted to talk to him, then so be it - and he said I'm no exception.
"So, he just asked me what I'm doin'. But he never pressured me to come that way [to Gunnedah] ... I've got to sit down and have a chat to him about football soon, which will hopefully be within the next week or so."
Schmiedel said "either way, I feel like I'm letting someone down, but it's a choice I'm gonna have to make".
The father of two returned to Norths last season. He had last played for the club in 2009, the proceeding years marked by a seven-year stint with the Macquarie Scorpions in Newcastle followed by two seasons with Aberdeen in Group 21. He then returned to Norths.
He was like a scalpel in attack for the Bears on the right edge last season, but was sidelined for an extended period when he sustained a horror eye injury - the result of an accidental finger poke - that required three operations to save the eye. He returned to action late in the season.
But injuries, his daughters getting older and a desire to go out still playing good footy, means 2020 will likely be his swansong year.