Generational AFL superstar Gary Ablett Jr. pulled the boots on for the first time since calling time on his illustrious career, lining up for NTFL outfit Palmerston Magpies on Friday night in the Top End.
And with Ablett making his way north for a one-off outing against reigning NTFL premiers St Mary's, Darwin turned out in force to see what 'The Little Master' had left in his kitbag.
Starting with his usual dazzle in traffic, Ablett ended the first term with a pair of goal assists, linking with his new teammates by hand and by foot.
However, a calf injury sustained during the second term quelled the eight-time All-Australian, forcing him from his post in the centre of TIO Stadium to one deep in Palmerston's forward line.
Ablett would not wander meekly into the night, however, nor call for the ice ahead of time, instead opting to play out the contest and give the crowd their money's worth.
Across the course of his 357-game AFL career, Ablett would make the journey to Darwin just once, ending the outing with 17 touches and a solitary behind. Sadly, for those present on Friday night, that streak would continue as the Saints packed their backline, spoiling the party for a 31-point win.
Speaking in the aftermath of his much-anticipated appearance, Ablett claimed that while hampered, his appetite for action had been whet.
“It was really good to come up here and I'm just so thankful to Palmerston for all they've done to organise this and support my family,” Ablett was quoted by News Corp.
“We've really enjoyed our time here, would have been good to get the win, but really great group of guys that I got to train with and play with.
“I did my calf in the second quarter, so I won't be back next week, I made sure to run out the game but the body is telling me it's not up to this level of footy anymore.
“But I had a lot of fun, and who knows, maybe another game in the future.”
Ablett's appearance in black and white bars came off the back of Eddie Betts' routine appearances for Palmerston, with the 35-year-old still adept at wowing the masses.
The footballing world last saw Ablett on AFL Grand Final day when the son-of-a-gun embraced then-skipper Joel Selwood at the top of the Cats' race to kickstart an emotional afternoon for the club.
With a quintet of league MVPs, six club B&Fs and a glittering array of other awards on his mantle, Ablett is seen as moral to be voted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame at the first time of asking. Ablett will officially be eligible for nomination in 2026.