STEPHEN Milne will play his first game of senior representative football on Saturday - and he can’t wait.
Strathfieldsaye Storm’s Milne will be part of the Bendigo Football League inter-league team that takes on Gippsland at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
While a regional inter-league game may be small in scale to Milne’s 275 AFL games, 16 finals and three grand finals, it’s another chance for him to not only play a game of footy, but alongside the best players in his new league.
“I always love having a kick and to be able to test myself against the best in the Gippsland league, but to also play alongside the best players in the Bendigo league is a great opportunity,” Milne, 34, said on Wednesday.
“Opportunities like this don’t come along too often, so hopefully, I can help out a few of the younger guys and we can have a win.
“Going straight from junior footy to the Dandenong Stingrays in the TAC Cup and then to the Essendon reserves, I had never played any senior local footy before this year, so I’m really looking forward to being part of the inter-league team.”
Milne will be joined in the BFL team by another ex-AFL newcomer to the league in Golden Square’s Corey Jones, formerly of North Melbourne.
“I’ll play forward this week and try to help the other forward guys with what I’ve learned in AFL,” Milne said.
“There’s no better feeling than winning and if we can do it this weekend, it’s something I’ll really cherish.”
Coming straight out of the AFL where he is regarded as one of the great small forwards of the modern era after 574 goals, it’s no surprise to see Milne at the top of the BFL goalkicking table.
Despite missing the Storm’s round three loss to Sandhurst, Milne is 10 clear at the top of the goalkicking table with 35 on the back of returns of five, three, seven, seven, five and eight.
“It took a couple of games to get into it and for the boys to understand how I play and for me to know how they play, but I’m loving it,” Milne said.
“We’re playing some good footy as a team and I couldn’t be happier at the Storm.”
While this is Milne’s first season with the Storm, he has watched the club closely in recent years through his friendship with Strathfieldsaye coach Darryl Wilson.
“I’ve watched a bit of the Storm over the past few years, including the grand final last year, and the standard of the league has been good,” Milne said.
“The ball movement and pressure around the footy is really good.”
As for the treatment he has received from opposition players, Milne says it has been nothing out of the ordinary and that any sledging he has copped this year he’s heard it all before.
“A little bit happens here and there, but just like the AFL, as soon as the game ends you shake hands and what happens on the field stays on the field,” Milne said.
“It’s a really good, clean footy league, so hopefully, it stays like that.”
Milne has also been keen several times this year to seek out his opponent after the game in the social rooms.
“A few of the boys have asked how they went on me, so I’ve been happy to give them a few tips and buy them a beer,” Milne said.