IT seemed the stage was set, and the story line had already been written when Charlie Dixon made his long-awaited return to football, 10 months in the making.

With the Power enjoying a bye and AFL co-captain Ollie Wines also ready to commence playing from his injury interrupted season a massive crowd of 5270 piled into Alberton Oval to cheer home their Magpies and welcome back their star forward and midfielder.

After a measured start, Dixon took the game by the scruff of the neck to finish with 13 disposals, six towering marks, four tackles and a colossal five goals in a return that had the entire crowd on their feet.

“It was a relief after almost 10 months to get through a game and I feel really good,” Dixon told post-game.

“The best thing I found was to be a part of the team and having that comradery again and feeling a part of it.”

Nerves for a return from a fractured fibula and ligament damage in his right ankle could have been warranted, but Dixon said he remained calm during the week and in the final hours leading up to the game.

“I didn’t feel too many nerves, I was just keen to get out there – I love playing, and it is what I have missed over the last 10 months,” he said.

“Coming into today [Saturday] I didn’t have any expectations, the coaches didn’t expect anything of me other than to get through the game, so I was super pumped to get out there and run around.

“I was running around like a chook with its head cut off early on, I blew up in the first five or 10 minutes which was expected because you can’t prepare for that.

“As the game got going it all started to feel a bit better and to finish my work as well was really good.”

The first quarter saw his teammates look for him at any opportunity and Dixon laid tackles and had a jump in the ruck, trying to play like the commanding figure he had proven to be during his first 126 AFL games - but it all clicked during a memorable second quarter.

The entire crowd (Sturt fans included) rose to their feet and Dixon was surrounded by his teammates when he kicked his first goal, 13 minutes into the second quarter, which he described as a surreal feeling.

“It was a mongrel punt which went through,” he said.

“That was probably what I was most nervous about, getting that first shot out of the way and to have my teammates get around me was pretty amazing.

“The crowd was incredible, a massive thanks to the supporters for coming out – to see that many people to a Maggies game was unreal and the boys loved it.”

Dixon kicked his second goal close to half time to give Port a 23-point lead and booted two more goals to take his tally to four for the match, before he went on a trademark Dixon long lead during the last quarter to mark right in front of the Power players watching on from the Allan Scott Headquarters balcony.

He slotted his fifth goal and turned to his teammates to celebrate.

While injury was the path that led Dixon to make his debut in the Magpies prison bars, the 28-year-old said it would be a moment he would cherish for the rest of his life.

“I came from a club (Gold Coast) where we were trying to make our own history before I came to a club which has so much history, we see it on the walls as we walk through here every day,” he said.

“We exist to win premierships and we won all those premierships in this guernsey.

“It has been something that I have been really looking forward to – pulling on the prison bars and to be a part of that Magpies history and to be able to play in the jumper is something really special and something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Post-game, Dixon said his recovery was tracking well and his leg is regaining the strength it once had.

“The leg is going alright, it is a little bit grumbly (after my first game back) but that is the biggest hit out that I have had in 10 months,” he said.

“It has pulled up well, but I will still have that soreness because that is the most I have done with it for 10 months.

“I had a couple of really good training sessions where I just let go and trained normally and do some of the things that I was able to do before."

Port beat Sturt by 20 points on Saturday, 12.13-85 to 10.5-65 with Wines finishing the game with 32 disposals, 10 tackles and six clearances.