Saturday might carry a slightly unsettling feeling for more than a few footballers around the region as a competition starts, but only for some.
Guy Orton was a two-time Riverina League best-and-fairest in his time at Griffith before switching to Farrer League club Coleambally for this season.
He recalls having one year off between junior and senior footy but he made up for it later by doubling up with seasons in the Northern Territory.
"I played six seasons back-to-back, going Darwin, then playing down here and going back," he says.
"It's been a long time since I missed a full year of footy."
The former Griffith and Riverina League rep coach fielded some interest once the Blues opted out.
But his window of excitement had shut once the father of two got used to having more time at home, one of the benefits in a COVID-19 afflicted winter.
"I'm enjoying my weekends at the moment, with work being busy and we're doing house renos. And I'm spending more time with the girls. It's been quite enjoyable," Orton said.
"When it comes around next year, I'll be keen to go but to start halfway through, or now, it'd be pretty hard to do I reckon.
"If I was a lot younger and I didn't have the family and all that, I'd be pretty shattered (without a season).
"But spending more time with the family and realising how much you're away for footy... it takes up a fair bit of your life."
Coolamon co-coach Jamie Maddox, who shared the Jim Quinn Medal with Orton in 2012, has never missed a season and here he is, not injured, not retired, but not playing for the first time in as long as he can remember.
"It'll be a bit weird I suppose. It's been a long time since not having to play footy in the winter months. So it will be a strange feeling, seeing them run around, for sure," Maddox said.
"We've got an open house, we're selling our house, so I'll be doing bits and pieces around home. I won't be going to watch any footy. I'll just spend some time with the kids and the family."
Coolamon were among the final Riverina League and Farrer League clubs to withdraw. The Hoppers wanted a mandatory exclusion of non-Riverina players and coaches from the AFL Riverina Championship.