The country football clock turned back four decades for WA great Stephen Michael yesterday when he watched his sons Mathew and Talan play in the Landmark Country Football Championships which kick-started his brilliant career in the early 1970s.
Michael's Collie-based sons lined up for the South West against a team from the Upper Great Southern at Lathlain Park.
His own talents were showcased in the carnival four decades ago, playing for the now- defunct Central Great Southern before he became a household name at South Fremantle.
The AFL Hall of Famer said it was special to watch his sons play in a carnival which highlighted everything great about the skill and hardness of regional WA football.
"To have two boys playing in the Landmark this week, I take a bit more interest in it and it is special," Michael said.
"I played with a lot of great players back then and the carnival highlights how good the footy is in the country. You only have to take a little (Great Southern) town like Boxwood Hill.
"It's really only a one-horse area and you can get great players coming from there.
"You can go down to Manjimup or up north or wherever.
"A lot of times, boys were up against men in the country when they filled in for games.
"Most of the men would do a hard day's work before going to training or to the footy … they always developed a lot quicker.
"You're always proud of coming from the country where the grassroots were.
"If you go back through the early years to today and have a look at the players who have come through from the country, it's just getting more and more."
Michael this week was named as first ruck in a team selected by WA Football Commission operations manager Cameron Knapton to mark the carnival's 50th anniversary.
The team included some of the greats of WA football. All of them played in at least one country carnival.
Games started yesterday and will be played in four divisions today and tomorrow across the metropolitan area.