They will fight it out for the ultimate prize on Saturday but it hasn’t always been the case for Albury and Wangaratta. Back in 2001, the Tigers narrowly avoided the wooden spoon with a final-round victory over the Magpies at the Albury Sportsground. Relive the action from the teams’ two battles that year in our gallery here. We’ve also dug up our match report from that fateful day below:
Albury breaks through to avoid the wooden spoon
ALBURY avoided the embarrassment of collecting its first wooden spoon since 1984 with a sensational fightback against Wangaratta at the Albury Sportsground on Saturday.
The Tigers' tumultuous season looked headed for a predictable conclusion when they slumped 38 points behind the Magpies who were trying to avoid their first bottom of the ladder finish since 1995.
But the Tigers roared back into the match with captain Matt Fowler finishing an injury-interrupted season as the match-winner.
Tigers coach Ben Doolan, who has battled an ankle injury for more than a month to keep playing, described his captain as the “Wayne Carey of this league'' after the skipper bagged seven.
Wangaratta established its biggest lead of the match in the third quarter before the Tigers kicked two late goals before the three quarter time siren to remain a chance.
Fowler kicked four of the Tigers' six final quarter goals to extend the Magpies misery.
Albury held on to win by 11 points in front of their diehard fans who haven't endured as much heartache in a season since 1993 when they again narrowly averted the wooden spoon.
Jubilant Albury players belted out the club's theme song for only the second time this season on the ground after the match.
Inside the Tigers changerooms, Doolan told his players: ``It feels a lot better to win than lose doesn't it?''
Albury president Merv King also addressed the players after the match in a performance reminiscent of Carlton president John Elliott after an important Blues victory.
“I'm just glad we got a win before the end of the season,'' Doolan said.
“I'm more grateful for getting that winning feeling back than avoiding the spoon.
“The supporters are a bloody loyal bunch. They like a win more than anyone and they've stuck by us."
Before the match King put a positive spin on the Tigers' season which has seen them go from winning 17 matches in the home and away rounds last year to only two in 2001.
“The reserves are on top of the ladder and are going along nicely,'' King said on the 107.3FM Ovens and Murray Footy Show.