Just short of 3,300 fans packed into Arden Street Oval for the first match for premiership points in three and a half decades.
There was a decent smattering of bright red Suns supporters in attendance, but with both hills painted mostly blue and white, this was a wonderful homecoming that belonged to the Shinboner faithful.
Something Gowans was quick to highlight.
“It’s a great oval to play footy on. So many supporters have sent messages [about] what this place means...we often speak about ‘we’re just custodians here’—it’s our job to win, but when you speak to the supporters about what it means to come back and play for four premiership points, they speak with such passion it’s infectious.
“I’m looking forward to when we play the Bulldogs here in a couple of weeks’ time... it really meant something to everyone involved.”
With much of the boundary lined by the faces of children—some of whose parents weren’t born when the men last kicked a ball in anger—the atmosphere was jovial and passionate in equal measure. No doubt most of the barrackers have March 21st circled in their diaries for the Bulldogs clash.