NOT for the first time in recent years, Maryborough has made a mockery of the popular pre-season prediction to tip the Magpies for the Bendigo Football League wooden-spoon.
Remember back in the pre-season of 2011 when the Magpies were widely touted as that year's wooden-spooners after their list of departures outweighed their arrivals six to one.
But the external predictions of a tough 2011 season for the Magpies proved way off the mark when Maryborough broke even with a 9-9 record and finished seventh.
And three years on, the Magpies are again proving the knockers wrong in what was another season where they had been written off.
The Magpies spent the best part of two months during the 2014 off-season shrouded in uncertainty as to whether they would have the playing numbers to survive this year.
Maryborough’s SOS campaign was launched on December 18 when president Mick Reid asked the question: “Do Maryborough people want a club in a major league? If we don't get the feedback we're not going to waste our time.”
The announcement that the Magpies would continue in the BFL after a successful recruiting campaign wasn’t made until February 18 – less than seven weeks before the ball was bounced for round one.
But from the cloud of uncertainty over their future has emerged one of the BFL's most defiant stories of the season under co-coaches Jamie Bond (pictured) and Glen Chadwick that took centre stage last Saturday when the Magpies upset five-time defending premiers Golden Square by 13 points.
The Magpies hunted the Bulldogs for four quarters and never wilted from the first siren to the last.
Last Saturday was the Magpies' first win over Golden Square since May, 2004 - they had lost their previous 21 against the Bulldogs - and their fourth for the season.
They’ve also beaten Kyneton (59 points), Kangaroo Flat (25) and Castlemaine (45), and with four other defeats by less than four goals, they could have been right in the finals hunt with three very winnable games still to come.
Having started the season 0-8, the Magpies are 4-3 over the past seven games and making Princes Park an uncomfortable venue for visiting teams.
Saturday’s win was a stunning a form reversal. To kick just two goals in a 141-point hammering from Strathfieldsaye in round 14 and then come out seven days later and beat the Bulldogs showed enormous character.
But there has been enormous character shown all year by the Magpie players – from those who were there last year and stuck by the club when for a large chunk of the pre-season they didn’t know if they’d have a team, and for those who answered the SOS call to ensure that what could have been a sinking ship remained afloat.