East Wagga-Kooringal star Alex Rogers won't get another shot at a Farrer League flag next season, after drawing the curtain on his time in the Riverina.
On the road this week, moving to Cairns, Rogers reflected on his successful, if slightly unfinished, decade in AFL Riverina.
A teenage Rogers played a part in Coolamon's 2013 Riverina League premiership under Matt Hard. He ended his time in the region with hopes of a Farrer League flag under the same coach only to see the finals series pulled, with hope building at EWK that they would challenge minor premiers Marrar.
"We were shaping up well, I thought the last three or four rounds we were building towards having a really good crack at it, with players back from injury and we were gelling well," Rogers said.
"I won one with Matt in 2013. That whole year was inspiriational at Coolamon and I felt we had that at East Wagga this year too so it was a bit of a bummer. But that's footy, that's life."
The versatile Rogers played back, forward and through the middle this year. He kicked 26 goals and was in the Hawks' best in 10 of his 16 games.
Best-and-fairest Harry Fitzsimmons (13) was the only other player in double figures.
Rogers said the 2013 flag is a clear career highlight, one he might have taken for granted at the time.
"That premiership at Coolamon was a pretty good year," he said.
"I was an 18-year-old in that team. I'd only really played junior footy back home on the Central Coast and (in 2012 and 2013) I was only really developing my game and Matt Hard really helped me," he said.
"Jamie Maddox had a big impact on me too, he was like the benchmark of the competition at that time."
Luke Maloney and Murray Stephenson were other role model teammates at Coolamon.
Rogers then left his own mark on the Northern Jets with five years at the club.
Electric across half-back, he beat league medallist Mitch Haddrill to the Jets' best-and-fairest in 2017 (and was fourth in the Clear Medal count himself).
He was also part of the Jets' 2016 finals campaign.
"In 2016, we had the same sort of team as 2015 but we got four Canberra recruits and mid-year we sort of looked around and thought, 'we might have the team to do it'. We were building and building and building then we got to the prelim and lost (to Coleambally) in golden point extra time," Rogers said.
"That year was good. There was a good feeling around the club."
Haddrill rates as one of the most impressive teammates he's played with, as well as opponents, having come up against him this year.
Jets brothers Jack and Sam Fisher are also highly-regarded teammates for their ability to impact and change a game, as well as East Wagga-Kooringal teammate Brocke Argus this year.
As far as opponents go, he said former Collingullie and EWK midfielder Chris Gordon is up there with Haddrill, for the knack of being able to control, and turn, a game.
Rogers also had a short 2020 season with Turvey Park in the AFL Riverina Championship after the Farrer League fell victim to COVID.
"I think the Riverina League's a lot quicker... you give your opponent five metres and they're gone. And the skills are a lot better. I think I suited the Farrer League a bit more. You definitely get bashed around a lot more in the Farrer," he said.
Originally from the NSW Central Coast, Rogers said the region and its AFL Riverina leagues have been a big influence on his life since he moved here "as a kid" in 2012.
"I think it's the professionalism around the clubs that I really enjoyed," said Rogers.
"The communities as well, everyone welcomes you in with open arms, whatever club you go to and the clubs have got professional pathways.
"I've enjoyed my time. I've met a lot of good people and made lifelong mates down there
"So it's sad, but it's time to move on."
Rogers and his wife, who is from Cairns, are keen to settle in far north Queensland. He'll link up with South Cairns Cutters, who he had a season with in 2019 when they finished runners-up.
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