He's making a living out of his passion for racing now, but there was a time when Michael Buckley dreamed of a career in a different sporting arena.
As an AFL-mad kid growing up in South Australia's Adelaide Hills, the Tamworth Jockey Club general manager dreamt of playing AFL.
"I barracked for the Adelaide Crows as a kid and Tony Modra was my favourite footballer and I used to have a long sleeve Crows jersey with the No.6 on my back," he said.
"I think for a long time I thought I could play AFL. Once I got a little bit older and a little bit wiser and realised that my abilities and expectations were probably a fair way off AFL standard I decided to start pursuing racing."
Initially it was secondary to AFL. He'd play AFL in the winter and then in summer go to the races of a Saturday.
But racing soon ballooned into his life.
For a long time the two weren't conducive.
The long hours and 365-day a year nature of the racing industry didn't leave a lot of time for training and playing AFL, particularly when in a lot of the places he was working, Saturday was their feature day of racing.
One of the fortunes of taking the job in Tamworth was that with their meetings predominantly during the week, his Saturday's were free; enabling Buckley to rekindle his AFL passion.
He never expected to be doing it with the Kangaroos though.
"Our arch-rival team back in my local league is Mt Barker and they're the Kangaroos," he explained.
"I never thought I'd see myself in a Kangaroos guernsey until I got here."
For that reason he was initially inclined towards the Swans. But he had had a bit of involvement with former Kangaroos captain-coach Tim Cotter through Newcastle City, who he had played a couple of games for, and he steered him towards the Roos.
Buckley threw himself straight into it. He arrived in Tamworth on Monday and was at training on Tuesday.
"Coming out to a country community the best way to get to know people is to involve yourself in the community and for me that first step was playing AFL football," he said.
His first full season for probably a decade, Buckley said there were some Sunday's where he woke up regretting the decision to lace up the boots again.
"It's taken the body a while adapt to it," he joked.
"Being nearly 32 now I don't bounce out of a game now like I used to."
But he loved getting the Sherrin back in his hands.
He also enjoyed that "work-life balance" it gave him and he "never really got to do" in Newcastle. AFL was that outlet away from work.
The only disappointing thing was the way it all ended with COVID intervening only hours before they were due to kick-off their major semi-final against the Swans.
One of several new faces at the club this season, Buckley recalled how in his first game they had to rope in a couple of retired Roos to get the numbers. But from there they built up "a really strong team" and were a real chance of winning their first premiership since 2011.
"Unfortunately COVID curtailed that but I suppose it just fuels us and gives us more drive to get to the grand final and win it in in 22," Buckley said.
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