When Ron Best arrived at Golden Square Football Club in 1968 as a fresh-faced 18-year-old he was just another recruit.
Best made the move to the country from Heidelberg because his uncle Neville Howell was on the committee at the Bulldogs.
The club knew little about Best and there were certainly no expectations on the teenager.
What followed was arguably the most decorated career in Bendigo Football Netball League history.
He started with 14 goals on debut as an 18-year-old and finished with 11 goals in the 1984 grand final in his last game.
In between times Best kicked another 1599 goals in the BFNL to finish with 1624, won five premierships as a player across three clubs - Golden Square, Sandhurst and Northern United - and three as a coach at the Bulldogs and Dragons.
He kicked a remarkable 48 bags of 10 or more goals in a game and won the BFNL goalkicking award 10 times, including a season haul of 161 in 1980.
"Ron is the best player I've seen play country footy,'' two-time Michelsen Medal winner and Sandhurst champion Brendan Hartney said of Best.
"Simply, he was just that good."
Best passed away on Wednesday morning after a battle with illness. He was 71.
The champion full-forward will be remembered as the greatest goalkicker in Bendigo football history.
"He was the Tony Lockett or Doug Wade of Bendigo footy,'' Hartney, who played with and against Best, said.
"He was big and strong and always kicked goals in big games.
"I remember he kicked 10 goals for Victoria Country against the Amateurs one day.
"One out he was almost impossible to beat. I'm sure a lot of full-backs had nightmares about playing on him. He was such a strong, powerful man.
"If he got his body in the way you couldn't move him and he wouldn't fumble the ball either. He had such great hands."
Read more: The best of Ron Best's goal kicking exploits
Champion Golden Square full-back Shane Rodda was a premiership team-mate of Best and a direct opponent when the star forward played for Sandhurst.
"His record speaks for itself, really,'' Rodda said.
"I worked out he averaged 6.5 goals per game over 13 years in Bendigo football and three years in North Central football.
"Some players might do that for a couple of years, but to average 6.5 goals over 16 years is pretty remarkable.
"He had great natural ability, knew where to run, he was strong and he was a long kick.
"I remember he played in the centre one day in a practice match against University Blues and he was best on the ground that day.
"He always put his hand up to play inter-league football and he never let the side down.
"In 1978 at the QEO he kicked 10 against a Ballarat side that was coached by Allan Jeans. The next year he kicked five or six in the country championship grand final."
One of Rodda's most cherished memories of Best came in 1970.
That year there was little between Golden Square and Eaglehawk. The Bulldogs had Best at full-forward, while at the other end Eaglehawk's full-forward was Greg Kennedy, who went on to play 48 games and kick 143 goals at VFL level for Carlton.
"We played out at Eaglehawk and they both kicked 11,'' Rodda said.
"In the return game at Golden Square, Best kicked 12 and Kennedy kicked eight. That's 42 goals between them in two games. They were brilliant players and people would come to the footy just to watch them."
Best was inducted into the BFNL Hall of Fame in 1986 and last year was elevated to legend status.
He's also in the Bendigo Sports Star Hall of Fame.
Fittingly, the BFNL goalkicking award is named in his honour - the Ron Best Medal.
Best's great friend and former brother-in-law Tony Southcombe was a team-mate of the champion forward at Golden Square and Northern United and coached and played against him when he was at Sandhurst.
"If Besty was playing today where free kicks are paid against defenders for chopping of the arms and over the shoulder, he would have kicked another 40 goals per season,'' Southcombe said.
"His biggest strength was his strength. He was so hard to stop and, back in those days, the best way for full-backs to try and stop him was to chop his arms.
"When we coached against him we basically started five goals behind because you had to concede that he was going to kick at least five.
"We'd try to create a loose man to drop back and come across to chop his hands."
Southcombe said Best's goal kicking record could have been even more impressive had he kicked straight.
"If he kicked 1600 goals he probably kicked 1800 points,'' Southcombe said with a chuckle.
"He probably thought he was a good kick, but I can remember plenty of games where he kicked 5.12 or 7.10.
"Very rarely did you see him kick 7.0 or 8.1."
With Best's imposing record, VFL clubs did chase his signature.
Southcombe said Best was always content playing country footy.
"I'm pretty sure he played one practice match with Geelong and kicked something like eight goals,'' Southcombe said.
"He packed up, came home and never went back."
Southcombe was coach of Northern United in 1984 when Best kicked 11 goals in the grand final win over Eaglehawk.
It turned out to be his final match.
"Besty had a lot of pride and at the age of 34 or 35 he thought he'd had a good run,'' Southcombe recalled.
"If I wasn't coaching Northern United at the time he probably would have given up a year or two earlier.
"His body had probably had enough. You have to remember that he had defenders hanging off him every week and others jumping over the back of him.
"He copped a lot (of treatment), but you know I can't remember Besty ever throwing a punch on the footy field.
"I might be wrong, but it wasn't something that was in his make-up. He just wanted to get the football and kick goals. That's what he did best."
In the past six months, Southcombe spent chreished time with Best as he battled his illness.
They talked and shared plenty of laughs about their old footy and basketball days - Best captained Victoria Country in basketball before concentraing on football.
"We talked about a lot of things and Ron thought he'd achieved everything he could,'' Southcombe said.
"He had no regrets and he thought he was very lucky to have had the life he did."
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