Former Pioneer's return to Bendigo 

Former Sandhurst and Bendigo Pioneers star Andrew Collins writes about day one of the Blues’ community camp...

I’ve been excited ever since I found out our community camp was in Bendigo.

We could have been sent anywhere in Australia, but, thankfully, we ended up in Bendigo.

11.30am-1pm – arrived at the Civic Gardens for the official welcome.

I was expecting Rod Fyffe to give the welcome speech. He always seems to be Bendigo mayor. Mayor Lisa Ruffell spoke very well and then we went into the town hall for lunch with councillors and the great man of Bendigo football Steven Oliver.

It was a nice spread for lunch, I particularly liked the smoked salmon. The only negative for lunch was I was stuck on the same table as Ed Curnow and was forced to listen to him talk junk the whole time.

1pm-3pm – I was lucky enough to be sent on a school visit to St Mary’s Primary School in Inglewood.

On the way through Bridgewater I was more than happy to show the Carlton boys the ground where I made copious amount of runs in my cricket days.

It was a lot of fun at the school teaching the kids some skills.

A few of the students are relations of mine and a couple of others were neighbours when I lived at Bridgewater, so it was nice to catch up with them.

4.30pm-6.30pm – I have a lot of great memories of playing some big games on the QEO, so it was great to get out on the hallowed turf for the super clinic.

Some of the kids really surprised me with how skilled they are at such a young age.There’s some likely types there. Hopefully, they can go on and become Carlton players one day.

After the clinic we all sat out the front of the grandstand and signed autographs for Carlton fans young and old.

It was a buzz to see the smiles on all the kids' faces.

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