The sliding doors of opportunity and fate for four Great Southern footballers have not been lost on rising West Coast star Jeremy McGovern.
Teammates from North Albany - Marley Williams, Josh Bootsma, Warrick Proudlove and McGovern - have all taken different paths and, at times, endured cruel twists of fate in their sporting careers.
While McGovern was this week rewarded with a two-year Eagles contract for an impressive month of form, Collingwood's Williams continues to rebuild his career on the other side of the nation after being convicted in April for breaking a man's jaw in an assault outside an Albany nightclub.
It left him with a 12-month suspended jail sentence.
North Albany colts 2009 premiership teammate Bootsma was last month sacked by Carlton for posting explicit photographs on social media.
Another former North Albany teammate, Proudlove, is fighting through horrific injuries from a freak accident in 2011.
The car he was travelling in as a passenger on his way home from Perth to Albany hit a horse that wandered on to the road.
McGovern told _The Weekend West _ that the varied plights of his friends gave him perspective on his career and the headlines he made in November when he was banished from Eagles training for more than a month for being in poor physical condition.
"It makes you not want to take things for granted, that's probably the biggest thing," he said, adding that he wanted to keep raising awareness for the Proudies Foundation set up to help Proudlove.
"Even with myself at the end of last year, when I was sort of pissing it up against the wall a little bit, you bring yourself back down and have a good think about what someone like Warrick might be doing if he was in my shoes.
"He wanted to play AFL more than anyone and when you think your life is hell because you get sent away for being overweight, you just think about your best mate and that gets you through.
"You also look at what's happened with Marley and Josh and you know you can't take things for granted.
"It looked pretty good for all of us at the start but it might not paint the best picture now.
"I want to make sure I do the best I can so I don't get dropped, no matter what. You have to make the most off your opportunities, embrace it and hope for the best."
McGovern, whose father Andrew played for Fremantle and Sydney, admitted it had been frustrating to watch teammate peers Jack Darling and Andrew Gaff roar ahead with their on-field careers as he battled injury.
Preparing for tomorrow's game against Sydney at Patersons Stadium, he said it had put him "on the back foot" but he was now anxious to make the most of his chances.
The 22-year-old also believed the tight bond formed among members of his North Albany club, which also produced past stars such as Allen Daniels and Tarkyn Lockyer, had given him a strong foundation for football.
"It's pretty-laid back and cruisy and they're all a good bunch of blokes," McGovern said.
"It's definitely a great culture. We breed pretty good products and it's like a big family."
Craig Dew, who coached McGovern, Williams and Bootsma to the 2009 colts premiership, also defended the club's culture, saying he was proud of those it was producing.
"We're immensely proud of our boys," he said. "Albany is an exceptional town that has provided some great footballers.
"And it's not all about football, I'm proud of the way our kids conduct themselves.
"Josh and Marley have had their speed humps but I'm proud that we produce good quality young men and footballers."