Tyson Shea wondered early in his career whether he would ever play finals with Bacchus Marsh in the Ballarat Football League.
That mindset began to change a few years ago as the Cobras began to build under the guidance of then coach Cam Richardson.
They almost made it last year, only to stumble in the last few rounds.
It has been a different story this season with Travis Hodgson at the helm. Bacchus Marsh has been vying for top position from day one and ultimately only missed out on the minor premiership in a three-point loss to Lakers on Saturday.
The top two go at it again in the qualifying final at the Eastern Oval on Saturday and Shea cannot wait to get another go at Lakers.
Shea, 28, who has played all his football with Bacchus Marsh, said playing finals for the first time since 2001 was huge for the whole club.
The Cobras’ captain said it was exciting for supporters, volunteers and sponsors, as well as the playing group.
“The numbers around the club have really lifted. It’s brought people back to the club.”
Shea, who made his senior debut in 2006, said the experience and success of Hodgson as a coach had given Bacchus Marsh an extra edge this year.
“He knows what it takes. Everyone’s responded and playing for him.”
Shea said while recruiting the likes of Damian Cupido, Jarrah Maksymow and Daniel Burton, as well as getting Matt Denham back, had been a boost, there was plenty of satisfaction that most the players had started their football with Bacchus Marsh juniors.
“There’s still a real hometown flavour about the team. There’s a real desire to have success together as mates.”
Shea is confident Bacchus Marsh can turn the tables on Lake Wendouree.
He said he had taken a lot of confidence out of last week’s performance.
“We need to be more disciplined,” Shea said in reference to a few 50m penalties and free kicks down field.
He believes it will get down to doing the little things right.
Bacchus Marsh did not get a lot out of its big three in Cupido, Maksymow and an injured Richardson against Lakers and knows if this trio can break the shackles in attack they could make all the difference.
On the other hand Lakers’ big guns in Steve Clifton, Nick Peters, Ben Taylor, Bailey Edwards and Andrew Pitson rarely fail to fire and this, along with a disciplined defence led by Lane Buckwell and Tim Madden, could again get them home.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.