If Lake Albert win Sunday’s Pascoe Cup grand final, few will savour the victory as much as midfielder Duncan Brodie.
Raising the trophy would be especially sweet for the dedicated teacher and family man, having pushed through years of tough losses, heartache and injuries.
Brodie joined the Sharks in 2014 after moving from Canberra, and the club struggled mightily during his first two seasons.
Lake Albert had just lost a host of players to the Eastern Wanderers, and Brodie had suddenly become one of the veterans tasked with leading the fledgling team.
Lake then pulled off a stunning turnaround in 2016 - bolstered by a variety of fresh faces including Fred Gardner, Henri Gardner and Matt Menser - and went on to win the title.
But Brodie ended up watching his club’s grand final victory from the sidelines, having been forced to sit out all season with chronic Plantar Fasciitis.
“It was really bittersweet,” he said.
“I sat there and watched the boys get across the line and was thinking ‘I’m right there with you, but I’m technically not at the same time’.
“It was crazy how I battled through injury when we were struggling to keep our heads above water, and then took a year off to give the body a rest and the boys turned it around, ripped through the season and won the final.
“It made me even hungrier this year, I was so determined to get fit and get back on the pitch.”
While severe foot pain was the primary factor pushing Brodie away from the game last year, the birth of his youngest child, Tessa, cemented his decision.
The loyal clubman said that after disappearing from home on training nights all season, bringing home the premiership trophy was the least he could do.
“It would just mean the world to win it after all those late nights leaving the wife and kids at home,” he said.
If three kids counting on him to win it all was not enough, there are all the South Wagga students he teaches as well.
“A lot of the kids are coming along to see Mr Brodie play,” he said.