By: JESS WEBSTER
No place like home for Aspley recruit Ben Warren
Former North Melbourne forward Ben Warren has one thing on his mind as he makes his return to junior club Aspley this season for the first time in over a decade.
Warren remained in the VFL following his delisting in 2012, before joining Pascoe Vale in the Essendon District Football League for the past two years.
Now 27, Warren said it will be a challenge to re-join a higher level of competition, but achieving success with the Hornets is a big motivating factor.
“I’ve played in way too many losing Prelims, and a couple of losing Grand Finals, that the main motivation for me coming home is to hopefully have some success,” he said.
“I’m still chasing that elusive premiership. To come home and win one for Aspley would be a fairy tale.
“It was interesting to come back because I have to get used to training three times a week. Even last week we have a session backing up from Monday night and I thought, ‘geez I haven’t had soreness like this since I finished at North Melbourne’.
“The body is still getting used to it again, but I probably haven’t been this fit since I finished in the AFL.”
A talented Hornets junior and Queensland state representative, Warren switched to QAFL club Zillmere in 2006 before he was taken with pick 69 in the National AFL Draft that same year.
Aspley took over Zillmere’s QAFL license in 2009, and was a foundation club of the NEAFL when it was formed in 2011.
The Hornets’ rise in the Queensland football landscape, and the addition of coach John Blair in 2013, has Warren excited about the next phase of his football career.
“I think I was always keen to come back and play in Queensland one day. A few years ago when Aspley took over the QAFL and joined the NEAFL… I thought it would be a bit romantic coming back here.
“There was a big pull to come back to Aspley. They have obviously been pretty successful the last couple of years.
“I’ve kept a close eye on Aspley since I’ve been in Melbourne, and to see what he’s done and hear all the good reports made me excited to come back and play in the NEAFL.”
Warren also hopes his return to Aspley will re-ignite his lost passion for the game in recent years.
Although he initially felt ‘a bit weird’ after returning to Aspley from a 10-year absence, Warren said he has quickly felt at ease around the club.
“I’ve had to get used to going to back to familiar spots I spent a lot of time at, but it being very different at the same time," he said.
“I have to consciously think to walk up the side entrance because we just used to rock up to the front carpark and that’s where the changerooms were.
“I’ve only just started to get the passion back to play footy again. I struggled when I first got delisted and I felt like I was playing to get myself through uni and really just getting (wife) Caitlin and I through.
“The last couple of years I’ve started to get the itch back a fair bit. I’m very excited to pull on the jumper again, and hopefully I get a game in Round 1.”
You can keep up-to-date with all the 2017 NEAFL player movements for every non-AFL club here.
Have your say! Follow the NEAFL on Twitter (@neaflofficial), Instagram (@neaflofficial) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/neaflofficial).