For North Companions' back James Wallace, Saturday's clash with Quirindi FC didn't just mark a long-awaited return to the field after the COVID pandemic but his return to the field in a playing capacity.
Feeling like he needed a bit of a break, three years ago the 19-year old swapped the boots for the whistle.
He had been reffing since he was 13 but after finishing up his junior days decided to focus more on that.
But then last season he came to the realisation that he wanted to play again.
"So I started playing summer sevens last year and really enjoyed that so I turned up up to Northies pre-season and just went from there," Wallace said.
A North Companions junior, he celebrated a winning return with the Jackson Zifodya-coached side getting their premier division campaign underway with a 3-1 win.
"We were a bit scratchy at the start, just lost possession when we didn't need to. But midway through the first half we kind of got our mojo going and started putting the ball to feet," Wallace said.
He said he was "very nervous" at the start of the game, and had a few poor touches and made a few poor passes early on. But as the game progressed he got better, and he felt like he played pretty well in the end.
Although after limited preparation, it was a bit of a struggle to get through the 90 minutes.
"It was a bit tough especially in the last 20 minutes when I was starting to cramp up," he said.
"That was tough, just getting back to make those tackles and getting those passes away."
But he loved being back out there, and said it wasn't too weird not having the whistle in his hand.
Wallace did enjoy his time refereeing, running the line for the first grade premier league grand final last year a highlight.
Arguably the toughest job on the field, he said he found the biggest challenge that pressure of "just making the right calls at the right time all the time".