IT would be one of the most famous turnarounds in the history of country football.
Success-starved Glenrowan, which didn’t win a game last season, is out to break a 32-year premiership drought when it takes on Ovens and King powerhouse Milawa in Saturday’s grand final.
But records shouldn’t daunt the Kelly Tigers, with the club snapping a 31-game losing streak in its season opener.
And while the recruitment of Nigel Robinson and Rory Cunningham in coaching posts sparked confidence, surely first-year president Casey McPhail is surprised it happened so soon?
“Not really. As soon as we got Nigel and Rory, I knew we were going to have a good year,” he said.
“We were very fortunate getting who we did. I knew they had the contacts, the footballers and the mates to come.”
There was practically nothing to work with, the club “stuffed” in the eyes of some, but while there was a pulse there was hope.
If anything, McPhail said the Kelly Tigers’ dire plight made things easier to turn around.
There was no baggage, no existing factions and nobody with a warped sense things weren’t as bad as they seemed.
“In a way, it was easier to start from scratch with a clean slate,” McPhail said.
“With no senior players, it gave us a chance to start fresh.
“It’s taken a lot of work, but we’ve had a lot of support from past committees, players and coaches.
“I know it’s a bit of a cliche but it really has been a team effort to get this far.
“We’ve been lucky that we’ve had so many people more than happy to put their hands up.”
But it takes more than just effort, or good juniors, to turn things around so sharply.
People inevitably talk about the dollars but McPhail said so much more had played a part in the Kelly Tigers’ rise.
“We’ve got a lot of players who could have got twice, or even three times as much, elsewhere but chose to play here.
“The guys are all interested in playing together.
“It’s not about the money. That’s probably something that hasn’t been publicised enough.”
Premiership tales never get old but a Glenrowan victory on Saturday would be one for the ages.
But as is the case in any feel-good story, there’s always an obstacle that stands in the way of the text book happy ending.
On Saturday, that takes the form of Milawa.
“We can’t take anything away from them,” McPhail said.
“They’re a great club and have shown that over a number of years. They’ve been there and done that before.
“It’s clubs like them and Tarrawingee who give you inspiration.
“You look at them and you can see it’s achievable.”