Saturday 27 July, 2019. That was the last time Harrison Gunther speared a low, penetrating kick in anger, cleverly intercepted an opposition foray and shut down a gun opponent. 549 days ago.
He did plenty of those trademark ‘H’ things on that day at Bellerive.
First up he booted two first-half goals in a surprise role up forward to keep Glenorchy in the contest, after Clarence ran rampant en route to a 21-point half-time lead.
Then Gunther swung into defence and silenced the dangerous Chris Neild, who had also booted a brace in the opening half, as the Magpies slammed on seven goals to two after intermission to record a memorable Bingley-Linton Cup win.
However, during the week that followed, scans revealed what had felt like a twisted knee during the game was actually a torn ACL, meaning Gunther’s next big match-up was with a surgeon.
The operation went well, and Gunther was back training last winter and ready to play again at the end of season 2020, but made the mature decision to wait.
“Initially, with coronavirus, I thought I wasn’t going to miss any footy at all,” he said.
“Early days it was a lot easier than when I was back training at the end of last year. The temptation is there, I wanted to play but it was probably the right choice I didn’t, but it certainly wasn’t easy.”
Of course, that has meant the 21-year-old is now in the middle of a nine-month pre-season, and more than ready to pull on the black and white stripes again to repeat the form that saw him place second in the club's prestigious Roy Cazaly Medal as a 19-year-old.
“I've been training for that many weeks, I’m that ready for Round 1, I can’t wait,” he laughed.
North Melbourne calls
Gunther’s workrate to rehab and get back to full fitness was not lost on North Melbourne General Manager of Football Brady Rawlings, who had watched H’s progress for many years and selected the intercept machine for the Roos’ 2021 development list.
That means Gunther will receive opportunities during the season to play for North's VFL side, putting his name and game firmly in front of AFL clubs, particularly when Glenorchy has a bye in the TSL.
When he’s not making cameos in the blue and white, Gunther is hellbent on getting the Magpies back where they belong.
“I want to help get us back to finals first and anything can happen from there, as long as you’re in there,” he said.
He’s set the bar high as to his own personal contribution.
“I would love one day to be a captain of the club,” he said, having led Glenorchy to two victories as interim skipper in 2019.
“I think that’s one area I can grow, on-field, at some point putting the boys on my back and taking them with me.
“There are games in the year where you do need to do that, and I think I can add that to my game.”
A guy named Jaye Bowden did exactly that for many years at KGV, and Gunther is glad he got to learn from the best, and now wants to put those lessons into practice.
“I want to fill Jaye’s role,” he said.
“Even though I can’t fill it all straight away, that’s where I want to get to – whenever required, be there to do whatever the team needs.”
Join Harrison in the Magpie Army, click here to become a member today and help make 2021 a year to remember