Worth whacking this article up here...this bloke has had a rough trot since leaving the Borough last year. Footy has a special place in his heart - PETER SPENCE Geelong Advertiser July 19, 2005 By: JAY CLARK `I'm a much stronger person ... It feels like I can do anything now.' IT'S the smell of liniment oil that Joeys' Peter Spence misses most about playing football. The way club stalwarts would join in on the song after a miracle win. I'm a much stronger person . . . It feels like I can do anything now." - PETER SPENCE And the fuzzy feeling that tingles deep inside when you kick the impossible goal from the boundary. They are the unforgettable sensations that sometimes make the boundary lines of sporting fields feel like the edge of the earth. The gun onballer has had four months to remember them all since he was told he may never play football again because of a life-threatening heart condition. But surgery two weeks ago has given him real hope of returning and a perspective of life that only comes after your breastplate is chiselled open and your heart massaged by a human hand. ``I'm a much stronger person,'' he said through a defiant smile yesterday. ``It feels like I can do anything now.'' Not bad for a 21-year-old looking a pale shade of grey and barely able to break out of first gear. He weighs about 10kg less than he should and is just a shadow of the centreman that split packs in Geelong's VFL outfit pre-season. But it is the small steps up what seems like Mount Everest that has fuelled his burning ambition to put the boots back on. ``Things like standing up in the shower,'' he said. ``Just getting out of bed by myself that helps prove I am getting better.'' So much better he would have a kick at goals tomorrow if he was allowed. The role of DVD critic does not sit well with a man used to training four nights a week for as long as he can remember. He is thankful it has so far been a speedy recovery but he is the first to admit it's been a frightening four months. From the time he was rushed to hospital after an infection attacked the weak heart valve he was born with. To a very lonely last night in hospital before the surgery. And waking up hours later, feeling only his itchy toes before a slow-motion ride through the most painful night of his life. ``It was a really uncomfortable experience because there were tubes coming out of me everywhere,'' he said. ``I was in a lot of pain but the worst thing was just the loss of time and sleep. ``I was starting to go crazy, just hanging for the morning to come.'' The sun did rise and finally break through dark clouds of uncertainty for what he called the first day of his new life. The feeling of having what felt like a fridge thrown at your chest can quickly change your priorities in life. Like he said, it's not all about football. Strange words for a sporting nut who would have slept in his Garry Hocking Geelong jumper as a kid if his proud mum had let him. Travelling Europe has now replaced his dream of breaking the AFL, which is almost forgotten among a swag of new challenges, which include lowering his golf handicap, eventually surfing again and completing his construction management degree at Deakin University, of course. Not forgetting his good old guitar, which strums to his regular heart beat for the very first time. But for all the distractions, his footy bag still lies wide open in the corner of his room like it's tucked away in a dark corner of his life. Spence knows there is unfinished business. He will never forget the feeling of being dropped for last year's VFL Grand Final after playing every game of the season for Port Melbourne and the crushing end to what was supposed to be his re-emergence this season. ``I've got a footy in the house and I just walk round kicking it to myself,'' he said. ``I miss the camaraderie and competitiveness of playing in a team and the friendships. ``All the little things why you play footy that you take for granted. ``Like cleaning your boots on a Friday night.'' That, and, winning a flag. Sadly, Spence has no chance of being a part of his beloved Joeys' premiership charge. But coach Aaron Greaves said the players were desperate to go all the way for their inspirational young mate.