IT was a sweet victory for Albury over Lavington in a family affair where cousins coached each side into battle.
But for veteran Tiger Matt Fowler, while it was another premiership in the bag (and they are always celebrated heartily), there must also have been a sense of “what if?”.
Left out of the senior side he made his mark in the reserves’ convincing win, booting five in familiar fashion.
“I was very disappointed I didn’t get chosen in the seniors, I won’t hide from that,” Fowler said.
“But they made a decision and I wasn’t part of their plans.
“I got injured at the wrong time of the year.
“But I had a good game in the finals for the seconds and I thought there’d be a chance there, but it wasn’t to be.
“In my time I’ve been very lucky, I’ve had a good run — and this is a good way to go out I guess.
“A premiership’s a premiership and I’m not bitter, I love this place.”
Fowler said the Tigers’ performance was a good sign for things to come.
“The young kids out there were great and they’re the future of the club,” he said.
The seniors’ loss was no doubt the reserves’ gain.
Coach Josh Hillary said he was glad of Fowler’s presence up forward.
“He’s a bloke with so much experience and on days like today you always love a Matt Fowler running around,” he said.
“It would have been bittersweet feeling but to put that aside and play with us, to perform the way he did and show his class was a credit to the guy.”
Despite the scoreboard, Hillary said it was a close contest with the Panthers, led by his cousin Jarrod Hillary.
“It’s been such a good year and to finish it off in that fashion is credit to the boys,” he said.
“They were faced with a very determined Lavi side and you knew they weren’t going to give an inch — everything was sent their way and they rose above it.
“Me and Jarrod are like brothers and have been close for God knows how long ... I’m sure we’ll share a quiet beer.”
Hillary was full of praise for his young side.
“It’s hard to pick individuals from today, there were great efforts throughout the game.
“A couple of the younger players copped some heat early — Isaac Edger was creamed in the first quarter but found a way to grit his teeth and get back up to regain his composure.
“And it was the same with Andrew Dennis.
“They a great bunch of kids and there were no passengers throughout the day, they all played their part.”