EIGHT years ago Pool Pirates were on the verge of collapse.
This weekend they will have teams in four of the five senior Ovens and Murray grand finals that will, for the first time, be played in Wodonga.
But club spokesman Nash Clark is under no illusion as to the challenge they face in the premier men’s game, their opponent Sharks the reigning NSW and Victorian country champions and with strong claims to being the strongest country club in Australia.
“This final will be the third year the Sharks and Pirates go head to head in the A-grade men’s grand final, with the Pool Pirates winning the last two,” he said.
“Sharks won the first qualifying final while the Pirates had to beat Northside Stingrays to qualify.
“This year we lost Australian representative and key centre forward Lachlan Edwards but gained his two older brothers Blake and Anthony.
“Blake had just finished playing in Europe and is also in the Australian squad, while both play in the Victorian Seals National league team.
“Shannon Gould and Matt Hogan will continue to be the largest threat to the Pirates, their years of playing together providing them a great understanding of each other’s game.”
The same two clubs play off in the women’s decider with the Pirates slight favourites.
“Pirates are looking to go back to back while the Sharks are looking to regain the title they held for so long,” Clark said.
“The Sharks are a very young and fast side, who are led very strongly by Leah Dodd and well served by up-and-coming juniors Olivia Bahr and Brooke Dickie.
“Pirates are led by Kristy Hogan and Teigan Barnes who will match up on Leah in what will be a physical contest.”
In the B-grade men, Albury Tigers will play Pool Pirates in a repeat of last year’s grand final.
The Pirates are favourites to win after their first qualifying final victory.