Ghost enforcer at peace with his past
BEHIND the hard-running, heavy-hitting lock forward that runs rampant for the Grafton Ghosts is a man who is at peace with his past and has his focus firmly on the future.
Don Dickson is one of stars of the Group 2 minor premiers' forward pack, and has become one of the integral members of the club he won a premiership with in 2010.
But beyond the footy field is a concreter who admits to have made poor decisions in his past that stifled a potential professional career.
"I definitely had the ability to go further," Dickson said.
"I didn't make the right decisions at the time. There's a lot of mental stuff that you aren't really taught, and that is tough to deal with.
"Country kids don't know about city life. There's a lot more to it than just training Tuesday and Thursday nights and playing games. It's everything.
"I didn't deal with it the way I should've, but nobody's perfect. We just have to try to be better in future."
While the dream of a professional rugby league career faltered years ago, Dickson never lost sight of the man he wanted to become.
He spent time in both Sydney and Brisbane, and played for the Ghosts in their undefeated Clayton Cup-winning 2010 season.
After a short but disappointing stint with the Ballina Seagulls, he packed his bags and headed overseas to Dubai, where he stayed with family and experienced life on the other side of the world.
"My sister has been over there for nine years, so I went over there for a few months," Dickson said.
"I did a bit of personal training and taught kids to swim. Something I definitely want to get into more.
"It was unreal. The place is insane and nothing like what most of us believe over here. It's an eye-opener."
There is no doubt Dickson is keen to add another premiership to his (and the Ghosts') tally, but he could be forgiven if his focus faltered.
Dickson and partner Kylie Pearson are about a month away from welcoming their first child together.
"I've never been so nervous," Dickson said.
"The bub's due in about five weeks. Kylie's been great with it.
"It could be a grand final baby, but fingers crossed it doesn't come on the day," he added with a laugh.
The Ghosts still have to qualify for the grand final, but given their last match-up with Coffs Comets, the local side is odds-on to host the big dance.
Dickson missed the first clash between the heavyweights (round three, Comets won 18-12) due to a rib injury, but was the standout player in their return match at Frank McGuren Field.
The Ghosts dominated Coffs to win that game 36-8, and they should repeat the win if all goes to plan.
"I watched that first game and I think we should've won that game," Dickson said.
"I'm looking forward to a physical game. I'm not really interested in winning by 100 every week. It just doesn't interest me.
"We haven't done too much work on Coffs, but if we just stick to the systems Faz (captain-coach Ryan Farrell) has in place then we'll beat anyone."
Dickson said he was grateful for his "partner, family, and mates", and thanked the club and its supporters for their support throughout his career.
"Hopefully I can repay them with a premiership."