From rough-around-the-edges country lad to seasoned AFL professional, Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin can’t help but admire Bernie Vince’s journey.
Goodwin was a dual-premiership veteran with the Crows when Vince made his AFL debut, aged 20, in Adelaide’s round one win over Collingwood in 2006.
The pair were teammates for five years until Goodwin retired at the end of the 2010 season.
Vince switched to the Demons during the 2013 trade period after 129 games with Adelaide and, in a twist of fate, will play his 200th AFL match against his old side at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.
The lovable larrikin, who had a few scrapes with officialdom earlier in his career, has become a key contributor for the Demons.
“He came into AFL footy a little bit older and a little bit rough around the edges, but he’s developed and really became an elite player,” Goodwin said.
“To play 200 games, it’s a credit to what he’s been able to achieve.
“I know the players are really keen to play well for Bernie this weekend.”
Vince, from Stansbury on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, has the rare distinction of being a best-and-fairest winner at two AFL clubs.
With the Crows desperate to better their draft hand following the Kurt Tippett sanctions, Vince reluctantly agreed to the trade that saw him join Melbourne in return for pick No.23.
Goodwin is confident the Adelaide faithful will appreciate the opportunity to witness a former favourite son achieve a significant milestone.
“I think everyone loves Bernie and he’ll be received really well,” he said.
“He gave the Adelaide Football Club a great period of performance. He’s much-loved in the city of Adelaide … he’ll be well-received by the supporters there.
“It’s funny how it works out. I know his family is really looking forward to it. He’s got quite a contingent going … I think he’s asked for 40 tickets.
“It should be a pretty big Bernie Vince support crew with us.”