STEWART Crameri’s parents are feeling a mix of excitement and anxiousness as he prepares to make his return to the AFL on Friday night.
After being forced to sit out all of last season as one of the 34 banned players for anti-doping violations following the Essendon supplements saga, Maryborough’s Crameri will line up for the Western Bulldogs against Collingwood at the MCG.
It promises to be an emotional night for Crameri’s parents, Bernie and Amanda, brother Joseph and sister Anna, as he runs onto the MCG for his first AFL game in 559 days.
“Considering Stewart has been out of the game for that period of time, it’s quite confronting to think that he has got to get himself back to that peak game fitness… I’m quite anxious about it,” Amanda said on Thursday.
“This week is all about looking forward and Stewart getting back to the good times that he has known previously and playing some good footy in the forward line.”
Crameri, 28, has played two previous seasons at the Western Bulldogs in 2014 and 2015 after crossing to the Whitten Oval from Essendon, who drafted him from the Bendigo Bombers as a rookie in 2009.
Crameri spent 2010 to 2013 at Essendon, which included the 2012 season when the club undertook its regime of supplements and injections that ultimately resulted in the suspension of 34 players by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for the 2016 season.
For Crameri, last year’s suspension had further salt rubbed into the wounds as the Bulldogs went on to win their first premiership in 62 years when they beat Sydney in the grand final.
“That was obviously a tough day… we were excited for the Bulldogs to have such a great win and it was good for football, but as for Stewie not playing, you’ve just got to deal with it and move on,” Bernie said.
“There’s worse things that can happen and we talk everyday about challenges that pop up… you win some and you lose some and you’ve just got to take whatever comes.”
Crameri – who has played 97 AFL games and kicked 165 goals with the Bulldogs and Bombers – has been named on the inter-change for Friday night’s clash against the Magpies.
“Amanda and I are both excited that Stewie will be back out on the field on Friday night,” Bernie said.
“The past 12 months haven’t been easy to manage and it took a while to get used to Stewie not being out there, but we’ve got our way through it and to have him come back and playing on Friday night is fantastic.
“Stewie is very mature and professional in the way he thinks about his footy… he knows what he has to do to get himself ready for Friday night and he’s ready to go and obviously, really looking forward to it.
“There’s no doubt it will be emotional to see him back out there and like for a lot of other Maryborough people, it’s going to be an exciting night.”
Crameri’s last AFL game was the Bulldogs’ 2015 elimination final loss to the Adelaide Crows.