IT has taken four years, but Leitchville-Gunbower will play its first final in the Heathcote District Football League on Sunday.
The Bombers – who joined the HDFL from the Central Murray league in 2010 – will meet Heathcote in the elimination final at North Bendigo.
Not only will it be the Bombers’ first HDFL final, but it caps a stunning turn around for the club, which only last year won one game and finished on the bottom of the ladder.
The Bombers split their home and away season 8-8, but were inconsistent.
They have beaten every side except for flag favourite Lockington-Bamawm United, but only two weeks ago were upset by the struggling Mount Pleasant.
Despite last year’s wooden-spoon, there were high expectations on the Bombers after their pre-season strong recruiting, whereas Sunday’s opponent, Heathcote, was a popular tip to be the competition slider.
And that’s how it was looking under first-time coach Grant Ford after five rounds when the Saints were 1-4, with three of those defeats by more than 50 points.
But they’ve since won eight of their past 11 games – including a one-point victory over the Bombers in round 12 – to qualify for what’s their ninth-straight finals series.
The two sides are 1-1 against each other this season in what were games the Bombers got off to a flying start in both times.
Grant Ford (Heathcote) – “The story of the past month for us has been all or nothing each week in trying to get that spot in the finals, so this is just like another game for us.
“Everyone in Heathcote is behind us and really excited that we’ve got back into the finals with a bunch of local blokes.
“Leitchville has jumped us the two times we’ve played them, so if If we put our best side on the park and can get off to a good start against them, we think that will hold us in good stead.”
Marty Shadbolt (Leitchville-Gunbower) – “Our aim at the start of the year was to make the finals, and now the next step is to win finals.
“We’ve shown this year that when we play our best football we’re more than competitive. We’ve beaten every side except Lockington, so we’ll go in with a fair bit of confidence that we can do some damage in the finals.
“We think we’ll have as strong a side as we’ve had on the park all year, so we’ll have no excuses.”