Alex Johnson made a successful return to action in his first game for the Northern Blues. (PHOTO CREDIT: Rose Zarucky)
IT was only appropriate that Alex Johnson’s first game back was in red and white.
The irony wasn’t loss on the returning Johnson, whose first game for the Northern Blues came in the colours of his former AFL team.
In his own words, he’s heard it countless times this week.
And still in his own words, the feeling of being back in action was “unbelievable”.
“It was great to get back out there after nine or 10 months out,” Johnson said post-match.
“I’m feeling good. I probably played a little more bit than what we had planned.
“I pulled up really well: my confidence grew as the game went on, you’re a bit shaky early.”
That confidence was evident on the stats sheet, with Johnson building into the game as the Blues prevailed by 15 points in the Battle of Bell Street.
Six of Johnson’s 13 disposals came in the last quarter, with the 27-year-old providing a cool head in defence.
“No doubt about it, I built into it,” he said.
— Northern Blues FC (@NBluesFC) June 9, 2019
“I just tried to use my voice and tried to set the guys up around me to get in good positions.
“As the game went on, you start attacking it a bit more and feel more confident going into contests.
“The more you survive, the better you feel.”
Playing his first VFL game after signing with the Blues back in November last year, there was a time where Johnson thought this game wouldn’t come.
Admitting that he had thoughts his career may have come to an end, Johnson left Preston today thrilled with his return to football.
“You do think that a bit [that it may have been the end],” he said.
“It was probably the initial reaction in the immediate days after I did it, against Melbourne in Round 21 last year.
“I sort of thought maybe that would be it in terms of footy, and that could be my last time on a ground.”
Paying credit to those at his new club who have given him the opportunity to return to doing what he loves, Johnson said it was onwards and upwards from here.
“I’ve been really diligent in my rehab and I’ve attacked it with everything I’ve got,” he said.
“This club has given me the opportunity to get in and use the great people around to have the opportunity to play again.