Myrtleford Savoy Soccer Club's 60-year history has been filled with highlights, but it's now up to the next generation to ensure it continues.
Soccer wasn't officially recognised in Myrtleford until 1959 when the first executive committee was formed, with Con Leita the inaugural president.
Prior to that, a group of young men would kick around a tattered soccer ball after a hard day's work on the tobacco farm.
The likes of Greg Saric and Carlo Parozzi simply did this to fill in time, but they soon had an audience and realised the group had some potential.
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There was competition in the late 1950s, but nothing official in place.
'Friendly' games were followed by a night of festivities, but with the growing interest of players, an official Myrtleford soccer team was formed.
Mario Merlonghi made that dream a reality after driving to Wodonga and registering the Myrtleford side and announcing they would be playing at Bonegilla the following Sunday.
With no uniforms or boots, a team of 11 was formed and the side borrowed training guernseys from Myrtleford Football Club - featuring black, white and red as their original colours.
The team then called themselves Savoy after affiliating with the local Italian club, which opened in 1955, as the sport began to establish itself in the community.
But it was far from easy as club legend Adrian Novak recalls.
"We were outlaws if we played soccer back then," he said.
"From when we started, it's come a long way.
"We couldn't even leave the goals standing up, we had to take the goals down because you would never see soccer goals on any ground in those times."
The goalkeeper also fondly remembers a fateful day at Bonegilla where the Myrtleford players were under siege.
"We played at Bonegilla and we had to get three army trucks to escort us out," Novak laughed.
"There was 500 of them and only 20 of us there.
"We got awarded a penalty in the last few minutes and the referee took off and his car was upside-down when he got there."
Myrtleford initially shared the football ground with the Saints at McNamara Reserve, before moving to Memorial Park in 1980.
"We've come a long way from the football ground," life member Dario Marotta said.
"We had to pay rent to the football club and every now and then they'd want to increase it.
"Then we were at Memorial Park and the ground there was very poor."
Having struggled with the below par surface for a number of years, the committee rallied to build its own soccer facility at the rear of the Savoy Club site.
After much controversy with the allocation of the land, more than $200,000 was raised and in 1994 it became home.
Preliminary earthworks were completed early in the season and Savoy Park was born.
"When we got the ground here, it was the last year before the amalgamation with the Alpine Shire," Marotta said.
"We had a Myrtleford Shire and a few councillors and we just made it in time
"We've got a beautiful ground and I'm proud of this because we started from the bottom."
Myrtleford entered the Goulburn Murray Soccer Federation in 1962, before affiliating with the North Eastern Soccer Federation two years later.
They won premierships every year from 1963 to 1968 in seniors and reserves, with 1967 the only exception.
Savoy's next grand final victory came in 1973 and it was decided by penalties, with Myrtleford prevailing over Cobram, 3-2, with a kick to spare.
Little did they know it would be 43 years before they would see another one at senior level.
Myrtleford applied to join the Albury-Wodonga Soccer League (now Albury-Wodonga Football Association) in 1976 due to travel in the Shepparton-based competition becoming increasingly difficult for growing families.
The club was denied on the first occasion, before being accepted, along with Wangaratta, in 1977 to play against clubs in much closer proximity.
Myrtleford was starved of success through the 80s and 90s, but Zac Mirt, the club's president and first third generation player, believes 2005 was the turning point.
Sal Verde coached the side to the league title in 2006, but they came up short against United in the cup final that year and in 2007.
Myrtleford reached another cup final in 2013 under Joe Artavilla and Michael Sacco, but were beaten by Wodonga Diamonds, while Artavilla took them to big dance again in 2015, losing to arch rivals Wangaratta on penalties.
The drought was finally broken in 2016 as Jayden Vescio and Matt Park took over the coaching duties and led the side to a 2-0 win against Albury City in the decider.
It started another dominant reign as the Savoys won the league-cup double in 2017 and 2018, beating Cobram and Boomers in those two cup finals, before falling to Wangaratta this season in the club's fifth straight decider.
"In 2016, I'll never forget after losing four finals, I had a few of the old guys come up to me and say we're never going to see a cup again," Mirt said.
"It (2016) was special for a number of reasons because it broke the hoodoo.
"We were the team for many years that everyone knew they were going to get three points off.
"As soon as 2005 came about, we started to be more competitive and it raised a few eyebrows over in Albury-Wodonga.
"The club has been through a lot, we were put up for allegations of paying players in those early years and we had to earn the respect from a lot of those others clubs.
"I think coming off the back of some success, people realise that's not what our club is about.
"Our club is about solid foundations that these guys laid and we want to continue to pass on to the next generation.
"It's easier for clubs with bigger population bases around them, but to have 3500 people in town and do what we've done is pretty extraordinary."
The Savoys will celebrate their 60th anniversary on Saturday night with the club's senior presentation.
Myrtleford's most decorated player, Steve Mautone, who played for English Premier League club West Ham United, will return as a special guest.
The former Australian representative goalkeeper had 190 senior appearances at professional level and was also an assistant coach at A-League giants Melbourne Victory.
Mirt said he will be putting to everyone in the room what kind of legacy the third generation wants to leave on the club.
"It all started with the first generation, they laid the foundations that we've got now," Mirt said.
"It's a small club and a small community and the only way the club is going to succeed is by what we want for the next 60 years.
"The second generation may not have won anything, but instead of throwing their hands in the air and not doing anything about it, they actually got involved in coaching.
"It was their coaching and responsibility of us juniors growing up that propelled us to success as third generation players with the club.
"Even though they didn't win anything, they set the foundation.
"It's now our turn to lay the road map for the next generation.
"My brother has a little one and Jayden (Vescio) has had a little one and what we want for them is what we had as kids, for them to play with all their friends and family in the area.
"It's only our obligation to pass that on, otherwise it dies. If you don't continue to do it, it ceases to exist and we've come too far to let it go."
Mirt has served as president since 2012 and the club has plans in place to ensure the future is bright.
"Recently, with the new upgrade, the Alpine Shire put in the new lights and we've got plans to expand on that and make Savoy Park the soccer hub of the Alpine region," Mirt said.
"In 2012, we were successful in getting a grant and it was one of the reasons why we disaffiliated from the Savoy Club.
"We couldn't receive any funding attached to a venue with poker machines and were paying GST every year as a voluntary organisation.
"We're going through a strategic plan at the moment on developing Savoy Park.
"We're in talks with Football Victoria at the moment about revamping the facility and bringing it up to code by making it female friendly and so forth."
After fiercely fighting for its existence, the facility at Savoy Park is a reminder of the hard work and determination this club has prided itself on for 60 years.