WHO would have thought the boy who first pulled on the black V of the Southport Sharks at just five years old would end up going down as one of the highest achievers in the club's 60-year history?
That is the case for Andrew Boston, who played eight years at Fankhauser Reserve before a stint at Broadbeach and three years with Gold Coast.
Despite being just 27, Boston, who retired at the end of Southport's remarkable debut VFL season, leaves as an inaugural VFL co-captain, dual club Doc Mackenzie medallist and 2018 NEAFL premiership player.
He could have continued for several more years, but family won out after he and wife Samantha welcomed daughter Laura late in the season, and he steps back from interstate football fully satisfied with his achievements.
"I've given everything in my seven years at Southport and with a new crop of players coming through, having a new bub is the best time for me to walk away – it takes up a lot of time, the VFL, and that is time I want to spend with my family," Boston said.
"It's tough working through the week and if I do have to fly away on weekends, I miss that … Southport Sharks is a very professional club and they want to keep contending so it was just time.
"Twenty-seven seems young to retire from state league footy but I've had 10 years at it and it takes a lot of time and lot of pressure on the body, so I'm happy with what I've been able to achieve."
Boston has always been around footy, with his dad Neil having been at Southport before crossing to Broadbeach as assistant coach, hence the move to the QAFL Cats when he was 13.
He was taken by the Suns at pick 55 in the 2013 NAB Rookie Draft, playing 16 AFL matches before stepping away at just 21.
Gold Coast's loss was Southport's gain as he put together an excellent 79-match career across five seasons.
The two best and fairests in 2016 and 2019 hold extra significance given Boston's close family links with club great Mackenzie.
"Getting drafted at the Suns was obviously a dream of mine as a kid and then going on to play AFL football was definitely a highlight," he said.
"Moving to Southport and winning a 'Doc' in my first year was really special … then (the) 2018 (premiership) was probably the best accolade in my career.
"(Doc) is a massive part of my family history … he was good mates with my pop when he used to play, so (winning the second medal) was a very special moment."
Boston admitted being a little surprised at how well Southport went in its first VFL season, winning nine of its 10 matches, including four by more than 100 points.
"We made the right decision to go to the VFL – and it was a great honour for myself and Seb Tape to be the first ones to lead the club into a VFL season," he said.
"Obviously it was a bit tough due to COVID restrictions and unfortunately we didn't get to play some of the better sides, but whoever we had in front of us we had success."
Boston holds fond memories of all three of his clubs and is looking forward to creating more at QAFL team Labrador.
"A lot of my mates I went to school with play at Labrador and I've got a lot of good relationships there," he said.
"They've got good people running the club, they've got a good culture … I want to go into coaching eventually, but I don't want to rush into things, I want to be able to learn as much as I can.
"I played my first senior games at Broadbeach, so I'd like to thank them, and I definitely want to thank everyone involved with Southport Sharks, it's like home to me, it's my family.
"I can't thank Southport enough for what they've done for me and I wish them all the best in the VFL and I'm still going to be looking on very closely."