Accomplished full-forward Marc Geppert has shocked Collingullie-Glenfield Park by announcing his retirement.
Just days after being promoted to regional manager of AFL Southern NSW, Geppert has decided to hang up his boots only six weeks out from the start of the season.
Geppert informed the club this week and told the Demons playing group of his decision on Tuesday night.
The champion forward retires as a seven-time premiership player, having kicked 1287 goals from 261 AFL Riverina games at Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong, Collingullie-GP and East Wagga-Kooringal.
The 33-year-old said it was time to concentrate on his professional career.
"In the last week or so I received some pretty good news with my employment and have gone into the job as regional manager for the AFL in Southern NSW, which is something that I've always aspired to do," Geppert said.
"The timing of it is a little awkward with the footy season just around the corner but I don't believe that I would be able to commit fully to the footy club in my new role.
"To be honest, as a person just starting off in my new role, I didn't want it to be seen as a conflict of interest. In my role in footy, it's quite hard if you're aligned to one footy club and potentially it could be seen as a conflict of interest so I'm really keen to start my new role in the best possible fashion by retiring from footy."
Geppert said it was an incredibly difficult decision.
"It's a really, really hard decision that hasn't probably sunk in yet but it's just something that I have to do for my professional career," he said.
"I've got to look to the future and I've got a family with Hutch and Jacinta and it's something that I need to secure there rather than clinging onto a football career that's well and truly past it's used by date.
"I just had to make the decision for me in my new job and unfortunately I'm not going to have time to commit to footy the way I would have liked."
New Collingullie-GP coach Brett Somerville did not see Geppert's retirement coming.
"Yeah it was a surprise. He's been doing pre-season all year and was keen to get into it and finish out his career over the next couple of years so it was a shock for him to say I'm pulling up straight away," Somerville said.
"A bloke like Marc, we would have liked to give a proper farewell to thank him for his service to the club, and region as well, but we won't get the chance to do that now."
Somerville said Geppert's loss will be felt most off the field at Crossroads Oval.
"There's obviously his on-field ability and the attention he draws whenever he leads out or is around the footy but he's a better bloke off the field and what he brings to your footy club and club culture is going to be harder to replace than what he does on the field," he said.
"He's obviously had a long time waiting in the wings to further his career and as a footy club and a region we wish him all the best."
Geppert won 10 consecutive league leading goalkicking awards from 2008-17. He won four Farrer League flags, to go with his three Riverina League premierships.
Geppert struggles to separate the 2008 and 2018 premierships at Collingullie and the 2016 drought-breaker at EWK as the highlight of his career.
"You play team sport for team success and I've been lucky enough to win seven premierships. I've lost my fair share as well but I'm on the other side of the ledger, where I've won more than I've lost and you'd take that every day of the week," Geppert said.
"To look back at the end of my career and have played in seven first grade premierships across two leagues, I'm absolutely rapt with that and it's something that I can't wait to talk to my kids about."
He is also proud of his inter-league record, where he represented his league for all but one season from 2006 to 2019. He also represented NSW Country in 2008 and 2012.
Geppert named Christen McPherson, Brad Aiken and Nick Hull as the best players he played alongside, and Murray Stephenson and Geoff Spriggs as his toughest opponents.
He also paid tribute to Collingullie-GP, which he considers 'home'.
"I've got Dad and Matty involved out there and it's a good environment for Hutch to grow up in," he said.
"I definitely consider it my home club and I thank them for everything they've done for me and my family."