Bridgewater and Bears Lagoon-Serpentine will fight for the Loddon Valley Football League’s 2013 premiership this Saturday at Marong.
But there’s seven other teams who wish they were in the same position of a chance at flag glory. LUKE WEST looks at the seven teams who will be watching from the sidelines on grand final day.
PYRAMID HILL: 3rd, 13-6
Same old story for Pyramid Hill. Again among the top teams in the competition, but still can’t crack it for that elusive premiership.
The Bulldogs – whose last flag remains 1950 – bowing out in last weekend’s preliminary final to Bears Lagoon-Serpentine was the sixth year in a row they’ve finished either second or third.
It’s a frustrating record for the Bulldogs, but if they keep knocking on the door, eventually they’ve got to break it down... don’t they?
While the seniors are finished, the club’s reserves team and under-17s side – which is undefeated – are through to Saturday’s grand finals.
MARONG: 4th, 10-8
Another positive step forward for the Panthers as they returned to the finals for the first time since 2009.
Since taking over as coach in 2012, Corey Gregg has lifted the Panthers from just three wins in 2011 to eight last year to the second week of the finals this season.
The season highlights were the 73-point elimination final win over Newbridge last month, plus the fighting come-from-behind win over Pyramid Hill in round 10 that gave the side enormous belief.
The club hasn’t won a flag since 1989, and there’s still plenty of work to be done, but Gregg has Marong headed in the right direction.
NEWBRIDGE: 5th, 11-6
The Maroons were one of the big four – along with Bridgewater, Bears Lagoon-Serpentine and Pyramid Hill – for most of the season.
However, the Maroons’ season was derailed 11 games in when, despite sitting third with a 9-2 record, coach Phil Birchmore was sacked and an exodus of players followed the coach out the door.
They were the only team during the home and away season to beat Bears Lagoon-Serpentine, but in the end, the year fizzled out, culminating in a 73-point elimination final loss to Marong when they only kicked two goals.
Disappointing end to a season that had started with plenty of optimsm that they could go one better than last year’s runners-up.
CALIVIL UNITED: 6th, 6-10
Finally, the remarkable finals streak of the Demons has come to an end. They finished sixth to miss the finals for the first time since 1995.
Their six wins came against the three teams below them on the ladder, while against sides that finished in the finals they lost all 10 games by an average of 54 points, which shows just how far they dropped off the pace.
The positive for the future of the club is their under-17s are through to the grand final. The Demons won’t be down for too long.
YCW: 7th, 3-13
Challenging season for YCW with just three wins – one of those an after-the-siren victory over fellow struggler Inglewood in round nine.
The Eagles played some good patches of football during the season, but couldn’t sustain it for long enough against the better sides, with 11 of their 13 defeats by at least 48 points.
The star for the Eagles was young gun Nick Waterson in his first season with the club. Waterson won the LVFL’s Rising Star Award.
MITIAMO: 8th, 2-14
The season was always going to be a struggle for Mitiamo after the player shortage the Superoos suffered pre-season.
But they won two games and avoided the wooden spoon that they were a popular tip pre-season to claim.
There were some heavy losses during the year – seven by more than 100 points – but they fought the season out until the final siren, almost beating finalist Marong in round 18.
INGLEWOOD: 9th, 1-15
A third wooden spoon in a row for the battling Inglewood.
But this one should hurt more than the previous two after the season had started with such optimism that the Blues could make some inroads up the ladder after recruiting heavily.
They beat Mitiamo by 35 points in round four to end a 19-game losing streak, but that was the Blues’ only joy for the year.
There were some defensive improvements, with the Blues conceding 63 less goals than last year.