Former Camperdown junior coach Peter 'Chester' Reilly fondly remembers a story that perfectly sums up the character of one of his past players - Easton Wood.
Reilly was coaching the Magpies' under 16 side in 2004 when Wood was a bottom-age player in the former Camperdown and District Junior Football League, which is now the Hampden league's Sunday competition.
A young Wood approached his coach before the match with a strange confession.
"We were playing at home and he told me he had gone out the night before, and it wasn't that he had a drink but that he was just late getting home," he said.
"His mum (Fiona) told him to come and tell me he shouldn't play today and that it was not fair to other boys in the side.
"He came up to me and said 'mum told me not to play because I was out late last night'. In the end I was able to talk mum around and he played.
"That was just the sort of kid he was. He was honest and that's what I liked about him and what others liked about him."
Reilly has been a close follower of Wood's AFL career since he was drafted in 2007.
He will be watching from his home in Camperdown as his former player lines up for the Western Bulldogs when they take on Melbourne in the AFL grand final at Optus Stadium on Saturday.
The 2016 premiership captain will marshal the Bulldogs' defence in search of his second flag with the club.
Reilly mentored Wood for just one season before he took charge of the Magpies' under 18 side the following year.
The next season the athletically-gifted boy from Gnotuk went on to become the maiden winner of the Hampden league's under 16 best and fairest and was preparing to start a dual academic and sports scholarship at Geelong Grammar.
During that one season, Reilly saw many of the traits Wood is well known for over a 187-game career with the Bulldogs.
"He has got a big motor as his background is in athletics as his dad (Phil) was a triple jumper at the Commonwealth Games and his mother was a 100-metre sprinter," he said.
"He was a good kid and had a big motor and was very athletic. He was well respected by the other players and was always polite and very honest.
"He was also honest with his assessment of how he was going.
"He was always wanting to know how he was going and not many kids do that. He used to come and ask 'how do I improve myself?' Even at a young age he was professional with where he wanted to go."
That professionalism and commitment has also helped the 32-year-old overcome many injury setbacks during his 13-year career.
The 2015 All-Australian said earlier this week that season 2021 had been his most difficult, overcoming several injury setbacks and conquering doubts about his body.
"It has been quite a, particularly early in the year, really challenging year. I tore three hamstrings this year and then coming back through the VFL, I ruptured my lateral ligaments in an ankle," he said.
"At that point, before I got the scan on the ankle, I thought: 'If this is a break, I am out for three months and that is probably season over'.
"Going through all these waves of ups and downs, particularly with the third hamstring I did, I am thinking: 'All right, is this the writing on the wall? Is it just the body saying I might not be up to it anymore?'
"But thankfully, as I have always done, I have gone back and worked with the physios and the fitness staff and just put the work in. I can't believe we are playing in another grand final."
Reilly said Wood's "ultimate pro" attitude meant he would have done anything and everything the Bulldogs' staff told him to do to return to full fitness after each setback.
It's also a trait that Wood showed during a promising junior cricket career, which was the reason he scored a scholarship to Geelong Grammar.
Long-time Pomborneit player and current secretary Luke Reynolds said Wood put a lot of work into his fitness, ensuring he stayed in top shape.
"You can tell he puts a lot of work into it because whenever he comes down, he always looks super fit and even if he is carrying an injury, he still looks super fit," he said.
"He was always a guy dedicated to what he does and he would do all the right things with his rehab when he is injured."
Reynolds, who played with Wood at the Bulls, said the high-flying defender was also handy on a cricket field.
The 2015 Charles Sutton Medal winner was part of the club's 2003-04 under 16 premiership side. He also made his senior debut that season.
He would play 27 senior games for Pomborneit before scoring a cricket scholarship with Geelong Grammar and then deciding later in his schooling to pursue a career in football.
He has a top score of 22 and best bowling figures of 6-20 from his playing days at the Bulls. His last appearance was in the 2018-19 season when he scored an unbeaten four in his first game since 2010.
Reynolds said Wood was handy with a Kookaburra cricket ball in his right hand from a young age.
"He was more a bowler than batter. He was an all-rounder but was more of that bowling all-rounder who had genuine pace and was athletic in the field," he said.
"His bowling was what got him noticed with Geelong Grammar. He can certainly play and would have reached a high level if he decided to stick with it.
"What I remember it (Wood's bowling) seemed to get good bounce off a good length. I didn't face him a lot but he had pace and he played cricket with a lot of energy."
Reynolds said Wood was still heavily committed to his former cricket club.
"He is fantastic and is a member of the club's coterie group and helps raise extra funds. It is good to have him involved," he said.
"We launched that three years ago and he was straight on board."
Reynolds said every time Wood, a father-of-two, returned to Pomborneit it was huge for the club and its members.
"We often want to talk to him about footy but he is always asking about the club and the players and is interested in us," he said.
"When he came back (in 2018-19) he was really interested in the club and the players and was prepared to talk to everyone."
Reynolds confirmed the club's 2021-22 playing shirts included a number 10 with Wood's name on it for it he returned this summer.
He said the club would be thrilled if Wood came back to play more frequently after he hangs up his boots.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.