Who can ever say what might be coming next.
It's coming up 20 years since Christin Macri, fresh out of the Western Bulldogs, came for one winter at East Wagga-Kooringal.
Two decades on, Macri has stepped down after a second stint as coach of Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong.
In between, he's been, and seen, a fair part of football in the Riverina, including a league medal win, league goalkicking award, and premiership celebrations.
The DA caught up with Macri to reflect on his football career in a region he couldn't have imagined he'd call home.
"Never! No, I was fortunate enough to meet my wife, Rachel (in 2001)," Macri says.
"She was playing netball at East Wagga. I'd come out of a relationship, I had a young son (Bailey, now 21) who was born premature at the time and I did sort of run away up here, just for six months. I thought then I'd get back to Melbourne or Victoria."
THE HAWKS OF 2001
An avowed follower of country football, Macri was aware of the Riverina League even down in Leongatha, Gippsland, mainly thanks to Essendon legend Terry Daniher's exploits with Wagga Tigers in the 1990s.
And as 'TD's Tigers were swooping on five premierships from six grand finals in his six years as coach, Macri had a season alongside Tigers gun Darren Cook at Central Districts in Adelaide.
As luck would have it, Macri (26 votes) and Cook (20 votes) would finish first and second in the 2001 Jim Quinn Medal count. But they were on opposite sides on grand final day because, along the way Macri had had a shot at the AFL, and by the time he came to Wagga, it was via another teammate, and another club.
"Rob Stevenson who I'd been with at the Bulldogs was coaching at East Wagga," Macri says.
"He'd had the year before, 2000, coaching them as well, and I got cut. I couldn't work out what I wanted to do and so I thought I'd come up for six months and play some football.
"We beat Tigers in round one by a couple of points at Gumly and we had a pretty strong side. But they didn't lose after that and they certainly took care of us in the corresponding game, by about 10 goals. And then in both finals by about 100 points which was pretty embarrassing... they were just way too good."
The grand final loss hurt, and of his league medal, Macri says simply that he "was fortunate to win it."
But he enjoyed the year, with EWK teammates Jamie Charlton and Shaun Baxter and ruckman Tom Gorham making an impression. As for opponents, well, the top sides were well stocked.
"Wayne Weidemann was here coaching (Coolamon) and I'd met him in Adelaide when I did a pre-season there. And he's from Fish Creek, down near my home town. They were the premiers the previous year too so you always kept an eye out for them. They also had Matty Hard...
"Then obviously the Tigers boys: Gav McMahon was coach, then Twitty (Jarrod Twitt), Steven Priest, Morto (Jason Morton). Just really strong, hard footballers.
"Ganmain started the year really strongly that year too. Luke Carroll was coaching at the time and they had a strong side as well. I wasn't surprised by the standard of footy. I knew it would be a strong country league."
Still, Macri moved on. Aged 28, and with AFL experience, he wanted to test himself and headed to the Ovens and Murray League as an assistant coach with Wodonga Raiders.
It was a playing decision first but in 2003 there was an introduction to senior coaching, and immediately the highs and lows of the job... Raiders lost just three games all year, two of them were the second semi-final and the preliminary final.
By the end of 2004, an opportunity arose at Williamstown in Melbourne.
"That was a coaching vibe," he says.
"I still wanted to play some VFL footy but that didn't quite work out, and I was assistant coach. We won the reserves grand final with Williamstown that year, with a really young group of guys."
It was also a glimpse into the future, with a young Liam Picken catching the eye.
"You just had pride working with him. Then to see what he did with his AFL career, it was phenomenal. But you knew he was going to make it because he was that determined."
Picken had a future in football while Macri's focus was shifting to family. At Wodonga, he'd studied primary school teaching and with Rachel's home being the Riverina, it had to be considered.
"I thought she'd sacrificed a fair bit for me so the least I could do was move here," he says.
Macri had VFL assistant coach on his CV, along with Ovens and Murray League experience. He felt a loyalty towards East Wagga-Kooringal but there were family connections, and a good feeling, about Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong.
"It felt like home. I'd been at Leongatha then moved to Bendigo when I was 12. It really felt like a country Victorian footy club. It was a little bit different to East Wagga, just the feel and I was really comfortable there," he says.
"The community and the people that were there, the Friday nights at the sports club and the families and kids... everyone was just there. I really enjoyed it."
THE LIONS DEN
GGGM had also replaced Tigers as the dominant force with Shane Lenon leading his home club to consecutive flags in 2004 and 2005 before stepping down as coach.
"I ummed and aahed about taking over a team that had gone back-to-back... but I was just really impressed with Peter McCaig and what he was saying and doing. And Tony Kelly and John Steele, who had come to Melbourne and seen me.
"I was lucky. I walked into a pretty good side. They were well-driven, they knew what they were doing. They had a lot of senior experience."
The Lions demolished Leeton-Whitton by an unbelievable 180 points in the second semi-final. The Crows, somehow, recovered and produced a comeback win over Griffith to make the grand final.
"I thought that was an amazing effort to bounce back, and we knew it wasn't going to be that easy again," says Macri, who had a moment of panic when dawn broke on grand final day.
"The windows were rattling when I woke up and I couldn't believe it," he says. "I had about 10 minutes of frustration and anger about it, then I felt like, why? We're still the best side in it and we've both got to play in it. But it was one of the strongest wins I've ever played in."
The coach's fears that it would level the contest weren't as wide as the mark as many of their kicks. By three quarter time, the Lions led by 13 behinds. But five goals to one in the final quarter did the trick.
"It was 39 points in the end... we won and it was one of the great feelings that you'll have," Macri says.
"I'd played in a premiership in Leongatha in '97 - my first one - and thought it couldn't get any better than that but when you're a coach and there's that much more you put into it, it was a great feeling."
The career roller-coaster ride would continue, as the Lions' 2007 campaign fell short of a grand final defence. They narrowly missed the minor premiership on percentage, then went out in consecutive losses to Wagga Tigers and Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes.
"So it ended pretty abruptly actually. It was a strange feeling. We went from thinking we might have had top spot and a week off to being out. Down."
It was a flat finish to an impressive career. Or it seemed so when a severe bout of osteitis pubis saw Macri retire at the end of 2007 and Christen McPherson and Daniel Rankin assumed control of the Lions for '08.
"Ranks and Fatso were coaching that year and they did a great job. They ended up winning the grand final. It was phenomenal," Macri says.
"As soon as the finals were over, I knew I wanted to play footy. You get to that point and you know, this is why we play... I just knew I wanted to get that feeling again."
One final season, for one fairytale finish.
"What a year 09 was. We weren't the best side. Coolamon was probably the best side all year. We got lucky on second semi-final day. They dominated the first half but they'd kicked points rather than goals and by three-quarter-time we were close enough that we were able to run over them," Macri says.
The week off was what the Lions needed and Macri, now playing up forward in a GGGM side with plenty of younger midfield options, had an unexpected feeling when the big day arrived, against Coolamon.
"I don't know why or what it was, but I just had a real sense of calm. I remember looking around at everyone and going, well, they've all done this before. I can't explain it but we ended up being six goals to nothing at quarter-time and 50 points up at half-time."
It finished a 50-point drubbing of their arch-rivals. Macri, who had been equal top of the league goalkicking during the season (71 goals, tied with Coolamon's Jason Brown) booted five in the decider, his final game.
"It's fair to say I was pretty lucky. I know some people never get the chance to win a grand final and some never get to play in one. I feel for them because it's tough to go through a career and not get the chance... you know what people invest in what they do."
Macri said he was privileged to play with and against plenty of good footballers in the Riverina.
"Christen McPherson, he was phenomenal. The way he reads the game. You think he's out of position and all of a sudden he's marked it. Or he'd come across a pack or through a pack and takes off and runs," he says.
Scott Hamblin was another to learn from at Ganmain, and Macri is impressed by Shane Lenon's ability to get the best out of himself, and his teams.
Of admired opponents there were many, but a Coolamon rival stood tall: "Matt Hard, he's phenomenal with his ability, his skill, and the way he reads the game. And what he did from a midfield perspective and then to go forward and do what he did... for the size he is, he's just so clever, such a thinker."
Macri, Hard and Lenon won league medals in consecutive years, from 2001 to 2003. In 2021, only Macri won't be still coaching, having had his fill for now after three years back at GGGM.
After 2009, Macri focussed on junior development, taking on roles with AFL NSW/ACT representative teams and the GWS Giants. He's a big fan of the Giants Academy program, and the time and patience needed to develop talented footballers into AFL-ready prospects.
He also took charge of Temora for two seasons (2015 and 2016) in the Farrer League. But the last three years back 'home' at Ganmain was a delight, even if it came without a grand final appearance.
Macri said he was able to apply years more experience when he returned as a non-playing coach in 2018.
"A lot of my mates from 06 said you're a lot more mellow coach now than you were back then. I said, 'Yeah probably because I didn't know what I was doing," Macri says with a laugh.
"But just the fact that we were able to turn the club back around again and get some love back in the place (was a highlight). A lot of the lifelong, diehard supporters are enjoying being back at the club and seeing some 'semi-success'. Without getting the ultimate prize, but being able to get that group of young guys and watch them grow over the last three years has been fantastic... I loved it."
Helping young players strive to achieve their best is something Macri understands from experience. His wasn't a storied AFL career in the end, but he gave it a shake when drafted as a 24-year-old in 1998.
"Ohhh, one of the greatest feelings I'll ever have," Macri says of the moment.
He'd known it was coming. After being in the Bulldogs system in '98, (and winning a premiership on AFL grand final day with Footscray reserves) Macri was among the fringe players called up for a trip to London to take on St Kilda in an exhibition game at the end of 1998.
"I remember being in the airport in Dubai and (Bulldogs coach) Terry Wallace told me they were going to draft me (a week later). But until your name actually gets read out and it happens, you just don't know. So it was one of the most exciting things I'd dreamt of.
"I was just so in awe being at the place and so excited. When you walk into the Western Bulldogs for the first time and Chris Grant walks up to you and introduces himself, 'Hi, I'm Chris'... It blows you away."
Humble guys Macri says of a group also including Brad Johnson, Rohan Smith, Scott West. And then there was Jose Romero and Tony Liberatore. "If you don't know them, you hate them (at opposing clubs) but to see them go about it... you learnt so much."
Macri "worked his butt off' throughout 1999 to earn three games late in the year in a strong side. But his big break never quite came.
Despite a big pre-season to kick off 2000, he was in and out of the side a few times but emergency more often than not.
"After about the fifth time that guys are getting in in front of you, you realise you're not marked to play unless they really need you. But we were aligned with Williamstown that year and I had a really enjoyable year under Andrew Bews (former Geelong captain and 200-gamer at the Cats)."
In the end, it was just another chapter in a life lived amid a love of football... At the end of 2000, the book fell open to a page marked Gumly Gumly and the Riverina League.
At the end of 2020, the Riverina remains home and sport is a big part of life for the Macris, particularly their children Boston, Aspen and Lacey.