BRENDAN Richardson's laid-back nature was rattled when he felt his heart rate skyrocket at football training.
What ensued was a period of "the unknown" as doctors and specialists worked to find a diagnosis.
The waiting game was the scariest aspect for the Camperdown defender who was forced to spend the entire 2022 Hampden league season on the sidelines.
Richardson, 28, was eventually diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia - a treatable heart complaint common in young men.
The cattle farmer said it was a sense of relief to know what he was dealing with and to have options available, such as medication and surgery, if required.
"I am still young and I like to look at myself as a healthy kind of bloke, so to have heart problems at that time of my life is not what I want," he told The Standard.
"In the back of your head, you're going to work that day and you're thinking 'is something going to happen to me and am I going to be OK?'
"That's probably the scariest part of it, not knowing what's going on.
"They've told me what's wrong with me now and it's a big sigh of relief, just knowing how to manage it if it does happen.
"If it does happen at work, I know what I can do to settle it all down."
Richardson, who hadn't had any health issues prior to this year, said the heart complaint caught him off-guard.
He noticed an irregularity during a training session.
An attempt to train and return to the field later in the season was thwarted when he suffered the same symptoms.
"At the start I thought I was unfit. I remember saying to (coach) Nev (Swayn) 'gee, I've got to get up here a lot more'," he said.
"I am renowned for being lazy in the off-season. I kept going for a bit and it started getting worse.
"I thought 'I don't think I am right' so I went up to see the docs."
Richardson was originally diagnosed with pericarditis - inflammation of the heart - before supraventricular tachycardia "a problem with the electronics of the heart" was found to be the issue.
"What happens is it takes your breath away almost and I was getting really light-headed, faint and my heart-rate was getting up into the 210s and that was without exerting myself," he said.
"It was happening in the warm-up, that is when I knew, something's not right here."
Richardson has been given the all-clear to start training and is plotting a path back to the football field.
He is grateful for the support around him, thanking the Magpies and his workplace for giving him time to attend appointments.
"Your health is the most important thing," Richardson, who wants his story to resonate and help other young people in the same situation, said.
"If you need to go home for a day or need to go and get checked up, go and do it, especially with the heart, you only get one of them so you have to look after it."
Swayn said it the waiting period was draining for Richardson.
"I felt sorry for him because it wasn't like it was an injury that he could get over, he just didn't have any clarity until two or three weeks ago about what was wrong," he said.
"Mentally it was probably tough for him because he didn't know."
There are two options - medication and surgery - at Richardson's disposal if he continues to have issues.
Surgery is the preferred option.
"If it does keep happening, there is more they can do to cure it for good," he said. "It's a very easy operation, nothing dramatic at all, in and out within a day and a couple of days off work and you're back into it. I think that is probably the way to go.
"I'd jump at it because - and Neville probably will vouch for this - I am pretty laid-back but sitting on the sidelines all year I was getting quite frustrated.
"When you know you can be out there, that is the most frustrating part of it all."
Swayn said Richardson learned lessons on the bench.
"He sat with me every week. He's never aggressive and a really nice guy but he got so frustrated watching this year," he said.
"You talk to him now and he just can't wait to train. He's started swimming and running and in some ways it's really made him keen because he's had a full year off where he's had to watch.
"He's a terrific guy, everyone loves him and he's obviously important for us because I rate him as one of the best full-backs because he loves playing on the really good full-forwards, locking down on them, and he gives us a heap of drive as well."
Richardson, who is managing a farm at Lismore and lives on a property near Cobden, is eager to return to his defensive post.
The key defender will provide on-field leadership when he returns next season.
Camperdown was restricted to five wins from 18 matches in 2022 as it got game time into young players.
"I want to be running around with the boys," Richardson said.
"They had a pretty tough year - and not that I'd have made any difference - but it would be good to be out there to play my role and help the team.
"It's amazing once you starting winning a few more games how much the community gets around you, so it will be good to see that spark at the games again."
The Magpies, who expect former senior players to return to Leura Oval in 2023, have re-signed Swayn as coach, announcing it this week.
Richardson said Swayn's dedication to the cause was admirable.
"It's great news. I know a lot of the players have the utmost respect for Neville and how he goes about it," he said.
"He puts in a power of effort and his whole family does a lot for the club.
"To have him there again next year kicking around is going to be good."
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