FORMER Strathfieldsaye team-mates Ben Gunn, Tim Wood and Liam Smith created one of the biggest talking points leading into the Bendigo District Cricket Association season when they left the Jets to join rival clubs.
All three players had to go through the appeal process to get to their new clubs - Gunn to Bendigo United and Wood and Smith to Golden Square.
Whether it's coincidence or the fact that the addition of all three players have helped their new teams get to the next level after both Golden Square and Bendigo United were beaten in last year's semi-finals, Gunn, Smith and Wood will all play in this weekend's grand final at the QEO.
Gunn had been captain of Strathfieldsaye for the previous two seasons, with his signing at Bendigo United helping the Redbacks form one of the BDCA's most potent batting line-ups.
"Leaving Stathfieldsaye was the biggest decision I've made in my cricket career and not something I took lightly," Gunn said on Thursday.
"I thought long and hard about it and have really enjoyed the move and obviously, I'm looking forward to the chance to play this weekend."
Aggressive top-order batsman Wood will skipper Golden Square in the grand final after taking over the captaincy duties at MyJet Oval from Grant Connelly.
"There was a lot to weigh up and it was never going to be easy leaving, but it has worked out well," Wood said.
"What has been really good is having a clear role and playing it each week.
"Scooter (Scott Johnson, coach) told me very early what my role in the team would be and that gave me a lot of confidence to carry it out."
All-rounder Smith's move was a return to his original club after previously playing juniors at Golden Square.
Smith returned to the first XI side last weekend and his 33 was pivotal in Golden Square batting Eaglehawk out of their semi-final.
“I played all my juniors at Golden Square up until the under-17s, so that made my decision a bit easier to come back,” Smith said.
While it was a difficult decision for the trio to all leave the Jets and join a rival club, for at least one of them, it’s going to pay off this weekend with a premiership.
“The good thing about it is we’re still close mates and looking forward to the challenge of playing against each other,” Gunn said.
Added Wood: “Regardless of the result, we’ll sit down and have a beer at the end of the game on Sunday.
“Friendship is what it’s all about and the three of us have all stuck pretty tight, so it will be good for us all to get out there this weekend.”
• Season stats:
Ben Gunn - 445 runs and 13 wickets.
Tim Wood - 424 runs and 19 catches.
Liam Smith - 126 runs and 10 wickets.