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THERE’S always an air of excitement whenever a former AFL player takes the field back at the grassroots level.

Over recent years there has only been a smattering of players throughout central Victoria who have played at least one AFL game, but the numbers have increased significantly this season:

BENDIGO

Damien Lock.

Club: Eaglehawk.

Age: 35.

AFL club: Carlton (1998-99).

Games: 18. Goals: 0.

Brownlow votes: 0.

Corey Jones.

Club: Golden Square.

Age: 33.

AFL club: North Melbourne (2001-10).

Games: 157. Goals: 216.

Brownlow votes: 12.

Rick Ladson.

Club: Golden Square.

Age: 30.

AFL club: Hawthorn (2003-11).

Games: 125. Goals: 45.

Brownlow votes: 0.

Nathan Thompson.

Club: Kyneton.

Age: 36.

AFL clubs: Hawthorn (1998-2004), North Melbourne (2005-08).

Games: 179. Goals: 327.

Brownlow votes: 43.

Stephen Milne.

Club: Strathfieldsaye.

Age: 34.

AFL club: St Kilda (2001-13).

Games: 275. Goals: 574.

Brownlow votes: 37.

Steven Baker.

Club: Strathfieldsaye.

Age: 33.

AFL club: St Kilda (1999-2011).

Games: 203. Goals: 35.

Brownlow votes: 4.

Shane Robertson.

Club: Castlemaine (coach).

Age: 50.

AFL club: Carlton (1983-91).

Games: 80. Goals: 23.

Brownlow votes: 3.

HEATHCOTE DISTRICT

Jonathan Hay.

Club: LBU.

Age: 34.

AFL clubs: Hawthorn (1997-2005), North Melbourne (2006).

Games: 157. Goals: 12.

Brownlow votes: 5.

LODDON VALLEY

Andrew Collins.

Club: Bridgewater.

Age: 25.

AFL clubs: Richmond (2007-10), Carlton (2011-12).

Games: 36. Goals: 29.

Brownlow votes: 2.

Will Thursfield.

Club: Bridgewater.

Age: 27.

AFL club: Richmond (2005-11).

Games: 77. Goals: 0.

Brownlow votes: 0.

Daniel Connors.

Club: Bridgewater (VFL alignment).

Age: 25

AFL club: Richmond (2007-12).

Games: 29. Goals: 11.

Brownlow votes: 3.

MARYBOROUGH-CASTLEMAINE DISTRICT

Darren Jolly.

Club: Lexton.

Age: 32.

AFL clubs: Melbourne (2001-04), Sydney (2005-09), Collingwood (2010-13).

Games: 237. Goals: 122.

Brownlow votes: 17.

NORTH CENTRAL

Travis Baird.

Club: Charlton.

Age: 27.

AFL clubs: Brisbane (2005), Western Bulldogs (2006).

Games: 5. Goals: 5.

Brownlow votes: 0.

Ross Funcke.

Club: Donald.

Age: 36.

AFL clubs: Richmond (1996-99), Melbourne (2001-02).

Games: 40. Goals: 5.

Brownlow votes: 0.

Andrew Welsh.

Club: Boort.

Age: 31.

AFL club: Essendon (2002-11).

Games: 162. Goals: 32.

Brownlow votes: 8.

Jesse Smith.

Club: Boort.

Age: 28.

AFL club: Carlton (2006).

Games: 2. Goals: 0.

Brownlow votes: 0.

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