SAM Docherty is ready to etch his name into Carlton history.
He’s also ready to just play some footy.
When he runs out onto the ground tonight for the first time in 984 days, it’ll be a much-anticipated return for the former All Australian.
It’ll also happen to be his first game as skipper, and the first time the AFL Blues will run out with co-captains.
For the boyhood Bluebagger, that’s something he simply couldn’t look beyond.
“Getting the role last year and not being able to get out there and play a game, I pencilled in Round 1,” Docherty told Carlton Media.
“It wasn’t as much a return physically to football, but to have the honour to officially put my name as a captain of the football club. It’s extremely humbling.
“I look at it as very exciting for my family. I went for Carlton when I grew up and it was a dream of the whole family to have someone play footy.
“To have my name etched in Carlton history is something pretty special.”
While he grew up with Navy Blue blood, it was still overwhelming for Docherty when it came to the support of the Bluebagger faithful.
It’s clearly been a tough ride for the 26-year-old, who went from John Nicholls Medallist (2016) to All Australian (2017) to on the sidelines.
He said the one thing he was blown away by was the true ‘All of Us’ nature of the supporter base.
The one thing you don’t really realise until something significant happens to you is that the Carlton faithful are an amazing bunch,” he said.
“I’ve been extremely humbled by how many people have reached out to me when I did my knees… it boosts you to know that many people are out there.
“We all appreciate the support and personally I couldn’t be happier with the way people have treated me. There’s been a lot of people who have been pretty scared over the last six months that I get through it.”
While fans may have been scared by Docherty’s health leading into the 2020 season, there’s one element which Docherty himself has no fear of.
If anything, it has served as motivation.
That being, the critique that ‘you won’t be the same player when you get back’.
“It’s been a bit of a driver,” he said.
“My mindset has always been that if you have two years off, you can make yourself a better athlete.
“I’m a better athlete now I’m back playing footy and I don’t think my brain is going to go down too much.
“I’m expecting to play as good footy - if not better - as I was when I was playing.”
On numerous occasions, Docherty has mentioned the frustration of not being able to directly influence Carlton’s fortunes on the field as a leader of the Club.
There’s no surprise what his main focus is now he’s back in Navy Blue.
“I couldn’t think of a better group to come back into… hopefully it can put us somewhere that we should be,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time for the Bluebaggers.”