Nathan Gordon celebrates a goal for the Swans against the Bulldogs in 2011
NATHAN Gordon has the words of his former coach John Longmire ringing in his ears as he looks to return to the AFL system, 10 months after being delisted by the Sydney Swans.
"Don't be that player who left the system and thought to himself 'what if I did this, or what if I'd done that better'," Longmire used to tell his players.
It's a message that Gordon has been thinking a lot about lately as his push to be re-drafted as a mature-age player gathers momentum in the SANFL.
Gordon is considered by some recruiters to be the best state league player in the mix for this year's NAB AFL Draft, with his form for North Adelaide drawing interest.
The 23-year-old spent three years with the Swans before he was cut at the end of their 2012 premiership season, and he is determined to earn a second chance.
"It's definitely a long-term goal of mine," Gordon told AFL.com.au.
"I'm halfway through the year with North Adelaide and I have to focus on each game and playing my best footy.
"But every now and then you have a little think about getting back into the AFL. You can't really help it if that's where you want to be."
Gordon started this season as a midfielder but he has pushed into attack in recent weeks to cover for injured Adelaide-listed forward Lewis Johnston, kicking 13 goals in the last month.
His move to the SANFL has proven a wise choice after Swans assistant coach Stuart Dew helped open doors at North Adelaide, where former Port Adelaide midfielder Josh Francou is coach.
"I've heard a lot about players coming down here and looking to get re-drafted," Gordon said.
"I didn't really know what to expect, what the competition would be like and how I'd fit in coming from the NEAFL.
"I feel like I've had a reasonable year though, and I'm pretty comfortable in this competition I think."
A former NSW Scholarship holder, Gordon spent 2010 and 2011 on the Swans' rookie list, playing two games in 2011 before earning promotion to the senior list last season.
He was emergency nine times last year but couldn't earn a senior game and was delivered the bad news six days after the Swans' Grand Final win over Hawthorn.
"You can actually kind of see it coming," he said.
"You can see the type of players they're bringing in and there were a lot of players my size and my position.
"I walked out of there not knowing what to do and I had a week or two off, trying to get footy off my mind.
"That's when Stuart Dew called me and asked what I wanted to do.
"A couple of weeks after that I organised to see Josh Francou and (CEO) Greg Edwards at North Adelaide and we got that sorted.
"I was over here before Christmas."
Gordon's improvement with the Swans was steady, but ultimately there was no room for him on a talented list with deep midfield stocks.
If he gets another chance, he's determined not to let it slip.
"I think I'm in that position now and I'm saying to myself that I want to change my destiny because I think I've got a lot to offer."
Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter @AFL_Nathan