When the final horn rang at No. 1 Oval this afternoon, victory felt bittersweet for James Vallender.
On the one hand, he was thrilled to have kicked five goals in the Tamworth Kangaroos' 127-point thumping of the Gunnedah Bulldogs.
But, on the other, he was "a bit emotional" after his last game for the club.
The 21-year-old has decided to return to his roots at the family dairy in Shepparton, Victoria, having moved to Tamworth over half a decade ago.
"Most of the family's down there," Vallender said.
"We came up six or seven years ago as a family, and slowly but surely that sort of deteriorated going back down south.
"So my fiance and my daughter, there's not much up here for us anymore."
Vallender was one of two departures for the Kangaroos after today's game, with midfielder Cody Tsaousis bound for Brisbane.
Tsaousis is a native of Geraldton, Western Australia, but left for South Australia as a teenager and has spent the interceding years moving incrementally further northeast.
He was a journalist for the Muswellbrook Chronicle before arriving in Tamworth in March 2021 to work at the Leader.
Having accepted a new role as a public relations officer in the military, Tsaousis will be sad to leave behind the club to which he has given so much, both physically and emotionally.
"I've moved states before, so I am prepared to do it, but it will hurt leaving here more than it has in the past," Tsaousis said.
"I like Tamworth and I love the club, but I'm moving on to pastures new, I suppose."
Kangaroos men's coach, Richard Nicholl, was sad to say goodbye to both men, whose contributions he said were both immense and unique.
"[James is] that second target up front ... he's that other option [aside from the tall forwards]," Nicholl said.
"Some teams don't man him up, and he's got that ability to mark and kick goals. He will be missed for sure.
"[Cody's] skills are probably a little bit down, but what he lacks in skill, he makes up for in energy and commitment. He's a good bloke ... he's saved his best two games for the last two he played with us."
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