THREE teams, three different games, one finals spot left – what an enthralling finish we have in store in the Ballarat Football League.
It can often be a throw away line when coaches utter something along the lines of “it’s really even this year” or “a lot of these teams deserve to play finals”.
Those words have certainly been uttered in 2014 but here’s the catch: they are true.
It can often happen that the finals teams are known long before the season finishes; you only have to look as far back as last year when sixth-placed Ballarat was two games and a stack of percentage clear of Bacchus Marsh in seventh spot.
Even with the two-game buffer, there was a feeling as early as half way through the year that the top six was settled.
That could not be further from the case in 2014.
Presuming Lake Wendouree is safe (and even that’s a dangerous proposition in itself) and we have Bacchus Marsh, East Point and Sunbury all battling it out for the final spot in the six.
Even the Lakers themselves could still possibly miss out; they play Sunbury next week and although they have an extra win up their sleeve, could still possibly miss by percentage.
Sunbury dropped a crucial seven percentage points with their 83-point loss to North Ballarat City on Sunday, signalling that even this late in the year, percentage can change easily.
And chances are, the sixth spot will come down to percentage.
Let’s look at the three teams vying for that spot and what they face in their final game of the season.
Bacchus Marsh (sixth, seven wins, 111.30 percentage points): Might appear to be in the box seat but faces North Ballarat City next week.
The Cobras were more than competitive in this fixture earlier in the year, but that was before North City was flying as it is now.
You won’t hear coach Cam Richardson admit it and the Bacchus Marsh players cannot afford to think it, but an honourable loss is not the worst result.
Obviously a win would be the optimum result, but a tight loss might be just enough.
East Point (seventh, seven wins, 100.97 percentage points): Has only spent one week in the top six all year and face fourth-placed Darley.
The Kangaroos will be throwing absolutely everything at the Devils, who could easily fail to match their intensity.
Darley has nothing to play for in terms of ladder position; they are fourth and cannot possibly move either way.
East Point’s best footy could easily be enough to beat Darley regardless of what is on the line, but with the added incentive of finals, the Roos could certainly pull something out here.
Sunbury (eighth, seven wins, 97.63 percentage points): Could the miraculous 18-year finals streak come to an end?
The Lions probably loomed as favourite out of the three sides to make finals heading into the weekend’s round, but the 14-goal loss was a killer.
Ultimately, destiny is somewhat out of Sunbury’s hands.
All it can do is try and beat Lake Wendouree comfortably next week and pray the football gods are smiling.
Like a drama-filled day of action to which the likes English Premier League have become accustomed, next Saturday afternoon promises to be one for the ages.