Five years ago, after five of their six daughters had left home, inaugural Fremantle Dockers football manager Gerard McNeill and his wife Leonie were contemplating life as empty-nesters.
Though it had been about eight years since Mr McNeill had left the Dockers, the couple were still closely involved with the club, and when asked to become a host family for new recruits from regional WA or interstate, they did not hesitate.
Since then they have opened their East Fremantle home to four Dockers - Victorian Nick Suban, Lake Grace's Nat Fyfe and more recently Tom Sheridan and Hayden Crozier, both from Victoria.
"I always thought if it was one of my children moving interstate, you would like a family to look after them," Mrs McNeill said.
The McNeills were used to a busy household but found adjusting to boys an entertaining and enjoyable learning curve.
"I've learnt that boys don't spend as much time in the bathroom, and they have a different take on life . . . and they certainly eat a lot more food," Mrs McNeill, a nursing manager at St John of God Hospital in Murdoch, said.
"And (my daughter) Holly became a sibling again, to boys, which is quite different after having five sisters."
Dinner time at the McNeill household became a very social occasion, with Sheridan and Crozier - who lived with the McNeills until a few months ago - often inviting other Fremantle teammates to their home.
The McNeills also hold a "MasterChef" cooking competition with the footballers, which Mrs McNeill said was cutthroat and a lot of fun.
"We have watched them grow from skinny little kids into these fantastic young men and amazing footballers," she said.Mr McNeill, who runs his own business, said it was a special time for those who started off with the club 19 years ago to reflect on how far it had come.