A young up-and-coming team searching for a drought-breaking premiership up against an experienced club rich with recent success.
It’s a fair description of Eaglehawk preparing to take on Strathfieldsaye in this Saturday’s BFNL grand final.
It was the same situation 10 years ago when the Hawks took on Gisborne in the 2007 grand final.
The Borough hadn’t won a flag for 25 years, while Gisborne had won four of the previous five premierships and were chasing a club-first hat-trick of flags.
What followed was one of the greatest grand finals in BFNL history.
The young Hawks kicked with the aid of a strong breeze to the city end in the first quarter and opened up a handy 23-point lead.
Gisborne responded strongly in the second term by kicking 8.6 to 2.3 to turn a 23-point deficit into a 16-point lead at the main break.
The Bulldogs then produced what appeared to be a match-winning third quarter when they restricted the Borough to 2.1 in the third term.
The reigning premier went into the final quarter with their wind at its back and an 11-point lead.
That margin grew to 16 points when Ollie Messaoudi kicked the first goal of the final quarter.
The Hawks looked dead and buried. Enter 39-year-old playing-coach Derrick Filo and two precocious teenagers Brodie Filo and Rhys Healey.
Derrick Filo produced a breathtaking 10-minute burst. Healey and Brodie Filo kicked majors before Filo Sr took a contested mark 40m out and kicked truly into the wind to give the Borough the lead.
That goal at the 18-minute mark of the final term proved to be the last of the game.
The Hawks bottled up play in their forward half for the majority of the final 10 minutes.
The final siren sounded with Gisborne on the verge of surging forward. The Dogs slumped to the turf as the QEO became a sea of two blue.
The final score – Eaglehawk 12.12 (84) defeated Gisborne 12.10 (82). Healey was awarded the Nalder Medal for best on ground.
Here’s what three of the key players that day remember of the 2007 grand final:
DERRICK FILO (Eaglehawk)
It was a big couple of weeks after that game, so my memories of the game are a bit blurred.
I remember we thought we needed some extra leg speed that day, so we brought in Brodie (Filo) and Rhys (Healey). They were only 17 at the time, but they gave us something extra which was pretty important in the end.
We knew we were up against it a bit at three quarter-time, but we just told the players to run and run and take the game on.
The boys were fantastic and they gave it everything. It was a very tough, physical game and it could have gone either way.
One thing I’ll always remember is just how loud the Eaglehawk supporters were in the last quarter.
Every time we touched the ball it was very loud. It was just fantastic. The supporters were like having a 19th man on the ground that day.
The supporters had stuck pretty fat with the club through some hard times, so they really enjoyed the win.
ROD SHARP (Gisborne)
I saw some footage of the game recently. Eaglehawk got some momentum and kicked three goals in a 10-minute burst in the last quarter.
There was still a good five or six minutes to go when Eaglehawk got in front, but because of the grand final pressure we just panicked and couldn’t get the ball past halfway.
Eaglehawk were just too good for us and it was bloody Derrick (Filo) who turned the game on its head. He made things happen when they needed it.
After the siren, Eaglehawk supporters rushed on to the ground and one fan ran past me and said “don’t worry, you’ve had your turn, now it’s our turn”.
For some reason I’ve never forgotten that.
It had been such a big drought for Eaglehawk, so the fans were entitled to celebrate hard.
That would have been the first Gisborne had won three flags in a row, so that’s what hurts the most. It was two points in the end, we were so close.
LUKE SAUNDERS (Gisborne)
I remember feeling as though we’d done enough, which was stupid.
All day the wind was blowing to the end we were kicking in the last quarter and once Ollie Messaoudi kicked that first goal of the last quarter I thought we had it.
The sun poked through the clouds and then Derrick Filo stood up, a young Brodie Filo stood up and young Rhys Healey stood up and they turned the game in a flash.
It’s still a game I think about a lot because it was one that we let slip.
I was really fortunate to play in four premierships, but I was also part of three losing ones and two of those were by three points and less.
Footy is a tough game and Eaglehawk were very good that year. I think we beat them by 90 points, or something silly like that, in the final round.
Then they came back and beat us in the second semi-final. They were a very good side with a lot of good young players.
(Coach) Marcus Barham had done a great job with us and it would have been great to win a third-straight flag for him. He was a bloody good coach.
Eaglehawk deserved to win and they went on to win the flag again the next year which showed they were a great side.