Tim Kelly never could have imagined his childhood dream of playing for West Coast would become a reality anything like last Sunday’s encounter with Melbourne.
Not only was round one a home game at an empty Optus Stadium - without his family, friends or any fans in attendance - but Kelly’s Eagles debut coincided with breaking news that it would also be the team’s last match until at least the start of June.
“It was a lot of excitement for myself heading in playing officially my first game for the club and a childhood dream come true,” Kelly told westcoasteagles.com.au.
“There was a lot of excitement and obviously a weird feeling heading into it because the AFL had just announced the season was going to be suspended after round one.
“We’ve regrouped, it’s sort of sunk in a little bit what needs to happen from here on in and it’s just important as a club we do everything right and set a good example for the community for everyone to do what the government is saying.
“The quicker we do that, the quicker we can get back to living our lives the way we want, the quicker we can get back to playing footy and the quicker our fans can get back to watching the footy as well.”
In the days since the Demons victory, the football landscape has shifted rapidly and as of Tuesday Kelly and his teammates have been forced into hiatus from the club until at least May 4.
That means training remotely for now and Kelly is already planning to convert the shed at his recently-purchased home into a temporary gym.
“It’s going to be a little bit tricky (for the players) but we’ve got enough resources, everyone helps everyone at this club so I’m sure all the boys will find a way to get it (training programs) all done,” Kelly said.
“Pretty fortunate I’ve got a pretty big block, so no doubt I’m going to be running, there is going to be a lot of hill runs and I’m going to have a little gym set up in the shed.
“I’m definitely going to be trying to maintain all my fitness that I’ve gained over the pre-season and put my best foot forward that I’m coming back in the same shape if not better, so that will be my main focus over the next period.”
Unfortunately Kelly's bid to continue building chemistry with West Coast's midfield brigade will be on hold indefinitely.
Some of that hard work over summer was on display against the Demons, as the Eagles' deep and versatile engine room showed exciting signs with their clearance work and efficient spread from the contest.
Kelly played his part, collecting 19 touches and nailing his first goal for the club in the 27-point triumph.
"It’s a challenge to build that chemistry, understand the gameplan and all the rest of it," Kelly said.
"Pretty fortunate here, a lot of the way that we think and set up it’s structure first and then play on instinct and that’s what I do best.
“These things are going to develop over time and I definitely felt a lot more comfortable than I did in the previous Marsh (Community Series) games and it just felt weird not having a crowd there.
“Fingers crossed we can get back to having our fans at our games after this period.”