COLLINGULLIE-Glenfield Park champion Brad Aiken will make a shock comeback against Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong on Sunday.
Eighteen months after retiring, Aiken will return to the Demons’ first grade team when they open their season at Ganmain Sportsground.
Aiken, 39, is one of the most decorated players in Riverina football history with five league best and fairests and nine premierships to his name.
He has not played first grade since Collingullie’s 2015 premiership victory but has been named in the Demons’ starting 18 to play the Lions.
Aiken was appointed assistant coach to Luke Gestier late last year but only made the decision to return in a playing capacity recently.
“Only in the last couple of weeks really, but I have been toying with the idea for a little while,” Aiken said.
“I just love being around it and love being apart of it. I haven’t done any training the last couple of years since I retired, just a couple of reserve grade games to help the club out because I love being around the Gullie, it’s who I am.
“I was doing the pre-season this year and have changed a few things in my life, I don’t drink beer or soft drink any more and I’m going to the gym.
“I got fit training with the boys, I would have done that anyway because I like being out there instead of being in the middle with a whistle barking orders.
“In the end, I just thought, why not.”
Aiken had a number of conversations with key figures at the club before going ahead with the comeback.
He is aware there will be a number of opinions but is not concerned.
“People will have an opinion, people will think I’m selfish and that sort of stuff,” he said.
“I’m going to find out in the first couple of weeks, whether I’m still up to it or not. If not, all good and well, I’ll play ressies and help the club out that way. But if I can still play a part, help Luke out and make other blokes pushing for a spot, work that bit harder, well that’s all good and well.
“I’ve got nothing to lose.”