Jim Auld was all too aware how highly-anticipated the return of football was on the weekend.
And not just because his decades of involvement with the game locally.
The veteran Dubbo and District Football Association secretary manager also has eight grandchildren who play junior football.
"They've been at me because they think I created COVID and didn't let them play," he laughed.
But Auld's grandkids and the footballers of Dubbo returned to the field on the weekend.
There were restrictions in place and new guidelines to follow in the juniors and seniors but Auld couldn't have been more pleased with how the return to play went.
"It really went well," he said.
"Especially since Saturday was so cold and miserable, too.
"We staggered the [junior] games out more than normal and we moved some of the min fields out further so there was more distance and it was good to see the parents do the right thing.
"Once the games had finished they packed up and left rather than hang around and that's what the rules state."
The staggered starting times meant the Lady Cutler fields never became too congested and having seen its success on Saturday Auld stated it could be the new norm even post-COVID.
"It was all really pleasing and that was the was the comment from the majority of parents," Auld added.
Having been involved with meetings at local, regional, and state levels during the lockdown, Auld has played in his part in getting the sport back on the field.
Football was the first of the major winter sports to return in Dubbo and it was special for Auld and many others to see things go smoothyl after a testing few months.
"They all went out and played it was good," he said of the juniors.
"I get a real kick out of watching the under 5s and 6s. Some of them are having their first game ever and they're just fantastic to watch.
"It brings a smile to your face because they're like bees around the honey hive."
On the field, the senior action returned on Sunday afternoon.
The results in the men's first grade were telling, as both defending premiers Bulls and Orana Spurs suffered defeats.
Both those clubs had been in action during the first round of the Western Premier League (WPL) on Saturday and a number of players were forced to back up.
Macquarie, which also has a WPL team, downed the Bulls 3-2 while Spurs suffered a 1-0 loss Newtown.
The other match resulted in a 3-1 win for the Westside Panthers over RSL78s.
In the women's top grade, Macquarie also enjoyed a win over the Bulls when running out 3-1 victors while RSL 78s eased past the Westside Panthers 4-1. Newtown had the bye.