Back in the nest
IT'S 2.45pm on Sunday afternoon at the Maclean Showground. The ground is bathed in sunshine and die-hard Magpie supporters start to fill the stands.
As Lower Clarence takes the field against Ballina, mumblings suddenly resonate around the ground.
“Who's the guy in the number seven jumper? Is it...no it couldn't be...it is, it's Dallas Waters.”
In their round 3 clash with the Seagulls, fans were treated to the return of one of their favourite sons.
A guy whose last game was played in front of a massive home crowd in the Magpies' 2009 grand final win against Northern United.
A guy who captained/coached his side to the title, ending a 25-year premiership drought
A guy who had to sit out the second half of the nail-biting decider due to injury. Rumours surfaced early in the season Waters may make a cameo appearance for the Magpies in 2011.
He has been spotted pumping iron at the local gym and working on his fitness in the off-chance his side was decimated by injury.
Well, against Ballina, that day arrived. Down on experienced halfbacks Waters took the field and not only directed his side around the paddock, he lasted 70 minutes to guide the Magpies to their first win of the season.
“Given we were a bit down on troops through injury I decided to put my hand up and help the boys out,” Waters said.
“And I really enjoyed it. But surprisingly I didn't pull up that sore.
“I've been keeping busy in the gym and also been working on my cardio fitness...it's kept me in good nick.”
The Magpies have been hit hard by injuries early on in the season but to have a player of Waters' experience sitting in the wings is a luxury for any team.
And from all reports his combination with Magpies five-eighth Todd Cameron played a big part in their maiden victory.
“The win was a confidence-builder for us all. The guys around me certainly made my job a lot easier,” Waters said.
“My combination with Todd also seemed to go well.”
At 34 years of age most footballers are well into their retirement, but when duty calls some can't resist the temptation to pull the boots on again.
“I'm more than happy to assist. Sometimes it's hard to say enough is enough when you are involved with the game,” Waters said.
“Hopefully the team can build on our win against Ballina and come away with another victory against Mullum (Mullumbimby).
“Until we have a full compliment of players I'll probably be in the run-on side this Saturday.”
Waters still remembers his last game in the famous Magpies colours, the day they snatched a miracle one-point win over Northern United with the shadows of the grandstand encroaching onto the field.
And after the match, he announced his retirement from the game.
“It was supposed to be my swansong,” Waters recalls.
“I remember coming off the field at half-time injured and it was hard watching from the sideline.
“But it's funny, you come back and play a game and you only want more.”