Canberra United legend Ashleigh Sykes was looking forward to sitting on the hill at McKellar Park to watch her former teammates this season – but in an unexpected twist of events she is pulling on the green jersey once again.
Sykes had been part of Canberra United since the inaugural W-League season where she made her debut as a 16-year-old. But towards the end of the 2017/18 season, she decided it was time to hang up the boots.
"It was something I had been thinking about for a little bit, whether football was something I wanted to keep doing as a player," she said.
"I was not as involved as I was before so I thought was there really much in turning around and working so hard for something when there were other things I want more, like hanging out with my family and having a stable job."
While some considered 26 too young to retire, Sykes ultimately wanted to spend time away from playing but she was still involved in football with her role as Game Development Manager at Capital Football.
Sykes had wanted to get into coaching after retiring but she didn't expect it to happen so quickly.
Working in the Capital Football offices, the former Canberra co-captain saw Garriock regularly and the idea was struck for Sykes to be an assistant coach.
"She asked if I would like to be and in the end, I thought it would be a decent idea to still have some involvement in the club," Sykes said.
However, with a depleted squad, Sykes's retirement was short lived and with Canberra looking short in attack, Garriock asked Sykes to consider pulling the boots back on.
"I was up for it and it is only a short term but it's still fun getting out there," she said.
Sykes came off the bench against Brisbane Roar in Round 9 to a resounding applause from the home crowd, who were excited to see her back wearing a green jersey.
The season for Canberra hasn't been going to plan however, and they currently sit seventh on the ladder with nine points.
The team's winless streak on the road extended to 417 days after going down 1-0 to Perth Glory and they could miss finals if they don't win their three remaining games.
"We just have to keep trying to work out how we can get the best out of the team and that is part of the challenge of being a coach," she said. "That's where my focus is."
The question though is whether Sykes will ever move on from Canberra United one day.
"It's hard to step away completely – but you kind of get a summer if you don't play, watch or coach... and it's something to look forward to if you aren't involved in the club," Sykes said.
"It's been part of my life for 11 years now and this is what a normal summer looks like and I hope it continues for as long as possible."
Canberra United are back at McKellar Park on Sunday afternoon as they face Adelaide United from 3pm.