Jason Allwood admits he hadn't thought about lacing up the boots again until he ran into a couple of his old Farrer comrades.
Dungowan coach Shaun Ferguson, and Luke Taylor lit a fuse in Allwood's mind to make a comeback to football and play with the Cowboys.
And so on Sunday the former schoolboy star played his first competitive game of rugby league in over 12 years.
"The last time I played was at Umina on the Central Coast in 2008 or 2009," Allwood recalled after Sunday's 30-22 loss to North Tamworth.
Much has passed since then for the man they call Big Bear - a nickname he picked up at Farrer, where he was part of an outstanding side that won the Uni Shield under coach Marty Moore.
Ferguson was the hooker, the precocious PJ Taylor was in the halves and the outstanding Tommy Learoyd-Lahrs in the pack with Allwood.
Doug Biffin and Andrew Warden were also part of a talented bunch of forwards who spearheaded the school's first Uni Shield triumph.
"He was a gun," Allwood said of the red-headed Warden; "hard to stop".
After Farrer, Allwood left for Sydney and a two-year stint in the Sydney Roosters Jersey Flegg before playing at Ourimbah for two years. Then he got the travel itch and headed to Alice Springs and onto Darwin for six years.
He loved Darwin: "Very relaxed," Allwood recalled.
He'd "got away from football" and into youth work before getting married in 2017.
"We then went on a three-year honeymoon," he said of a journey that took he and his new wife to Western Australia for two years and then Tasmania, where they were when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
"We were in Burnie and in Level 4 lockdown but working in essential services," Allwood reflected.
"It was bizarre driving to work with no traffic on the roads and being pulled over by the police to check we had the right forms.
"Then the opportunity came up to come back to Tamworth and work with Clontarf at Oxley High.
"Dad's side of the family still live here - great to be back after 16 years."
Allwood hadn't thought about playing again since that season with Umina until "running into Fergo (Ferguson) and Tubby (Taylor)".
"They said they had a good crowd out here at Dungowan, a lot of ex-Farrer boys, and they welcomed me straight away.
"It's been fantastic so far," he said.
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