It's been more than two months since the big men flew and a lot longer than that since the women finished their year.

Happily, it is a football-free world no more, with spring training with us again for a month or so to fill time until Yuletide.

Tonight at Xavier was much like any other first night. The heat, the humidity, the forecast storm and a dozen other excuses no doubt kept a few away, but the turnout exceeded one hundred players and plenty of officials and onlookers there to watch Robbie "The Weapon" Grey and coaches McDonald and Young put their charges through the November necessities.

Those keen to get their first glance at Scotty Mollard burning up the track might have been disappointed at his non-appearance, though work commitments rather than a lack of enthusiasm for the time-honoured time trial was the reason. No doubt the great man will be there at some stage soon.

Murray Browne, clear of coaching duties, hit the track like a youngster, performing many of the shuttle runs order up for the mens' squad.  Across the way, the fifty or so women lapped up the opportunity to get back into it. Skipper Emily Archer was clearly happy with the turnout. "Pretty good numbers, hey?' she asked, but the question didn't need an answer.

It was a promising beginning. Tickets Parker, who missed the Reserves premiership, with injury, was beaming about his intended return after Christmas. Tommy Wynne looked frighteningly fit after a horror 2017 and Terry Landrigan was there to oversee it all, ensuring that everyone had plenty of water to quench the thirst.

They will be at Xavier next Tuesday. The grounds are are in magnificent condition, but they always look nicer with a hundred or more Red and Blacks chasing a Sherrin.