A country football club is expecting a finals-like crowd when AFL icon Eddie Betts pulls on the boots in a special one-off appearance.
The Carlton and Adelaide great, who retired at the end of the 2021 season, will play for South West District league club Branxholme-Wallacedale as part of The Carlton Draft initiative which saw eight former players snapped up.
Saints president Damian Hogan said extra food and drinks would be required for a crowd "similar to a final".
A date is expected to be finalised within the next 48 hours.
"You have people turning up to the footy who haven't been for years and they just can't wait for it to happen," he told The Standard.
"The buzz around the community is unreal and, to be honest, the last two years we've had (during the COVID-19 pandemic) have been pretty ordinary for everyone and to get some news like this and see everyone smiling and the anticipation for it, it's bloody good.
"Carlton Draught will set up a couple of marquees...and, being a country club, it would be ideal to have a couple of sheep on the spit for the night."
Hogan said Betts - a 350-game small forward with an enviable highlight reel - was the right choice at pick two in the draft.
"Excitement is an understatement. I think ever since we found out we're going to get a player, the buzz has been unreal around the club," he said.
"We are really rapt to get Eddie - what can you say about him? He's just a freak on the footy field and he'll definitely turn it on for the day, there's no doubt about that."
Branxholme-Wallacedale is hoping Betts can make another forward pocket his own when he plays for the club.
"I was asked 'where's he going to play?' and I said it would be a bit rude if we put him in the back pocket," Hogan joked.
"A bloke of that wealth of knowledge and experience, it's not just for our teammates - it's for the opposition too.
"Whoever is going to play on him is going to learn so much on that day and all the things he'll give to our boys - pre-game and during the game.
"They're going to be there early and until 8 o'clock that night and someone like Eddie, everyone knows he's so approachable."
Branxholme-Wallacedale is in a rebuilding phase and has won one of its first three matches.
"It is a complete rebuild of our side. There's only six over the age of 23 - we have such a young playing group - and that's where someone like Eddie is going to be so beneficial," Hogan said.
"The (young players) are not playing for the chequebook - they're playing for themselves and playing for their mates.
"It's something that is hard to get and it's taken a few years to get there but now we've got it, let's hang onto these blokes for the next five or six years and win a heap of flags, that's the goal."
Hogan said 2023 was the 40-year reunion of Branxholme-Wallacedale's "one and only" senior flag and it was hoping to be a threat next year.
"It would be a nice fairy-tale to pull one off," he said.
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