In the latest chapter in our series on Farrer League clubs' most recent flags, we revisit Temora's 2014 premiership...
It can be a sickening feeling to think you're about to miss a train or an important flight (remember those?), particularly if it's a trip you never thought would come.
That's how Temora's Jason Reid was feeling about six years ago.
His home club, the Kangaroos, were flying, breaking a 52-year premiership drought in 2012, then adding a second Farrer League flag the following year.
Reid was in Canberra when they won the first. In 2013, he was back home but, recovering from a knee reconstruction, in-and-out of seniors all year. Come grand final day, his was a reserve grade loss to North Wagga, while the seniors, led by his brothers Dan and Adam, went back-to-back against The Rock-Yerong Creek.
So in 2014, he was ready to go all out in the hope of helping his team to a hat-trick and giving himself a taste of the party.
Spoiler alert.. they did, and he did.
"It was pretty emotional. I hadn't won a grand final with Temora all my life throughout juniors and seniors," Reid says.
"It was just relief and made me pretty emotional to finally get that reward for the last 15 years. And to join the likes of my brothers and my old man. We've been a part of the club from my grandfather through. I was chuffed about it. All the hard work paying off."
The boys' father, Phil, had a grand individual record at Temora but never the ultimate reward.
"He won 10 best and fairests but never won a premiership.... He said he'd trade in all those medals for that one medal, no dramas."
Finally, Jason knew personally what it meant, after the Kangaroos came out and blew East Wagga-Kooringal away in the second half at Maher Oval.
It was a turnaround. While Temora had won the previous two flags and were minor premiers (on percentage ahead of Coleambally and EWK), they hadn't beaten the Hawks all year - including losing the second semi-final by three goals, and being thrashed by 10 goals at Temora late in the season.
THE KRUGER TOUCH
They were also playing without coach Mark Kruger, who'd been sidelined by a knee injury for the final chapter of his three-year stint with the Kangaroos.
But this was a team he'd taken to two flags, and a new level.
"He was the best coach I've ever played under, he knew what he was doing," ruckman Chris Stacey says.
"We were just a club that used to poke along before he come along and he just really put a stamp on it, put his brand to it. I think a lot of clubs in the Farrer League followed his lead after that, with his game plan. He left his mark for sure."
Temora's current captain, Rob Grant, agrees. The game plan was to get everyone involved, play a team-oriented game, and keep the ball moving.
"He was good. Changed the team, changed the league for sure," Grant says. "It's stepped up two or three levels since he was there I think."
Like Stacey, Grant played in all three premiership wins. Looking back he reflects on the depth in a squad that could comfortably handle the coach going down.
"It was a good 26 or 27. We could afford a couple of injuries knowing that if blokes went out, other blokes who would come in and you wouldn't have to change the team. They'd know the team and the structures and would play their role. It makes it easier when it's like that," Grant says.
Looking back now, it's almost an embarrassment of riches. Matt Harpley (63 goals in 2014) was joined by Matt Wallis (52 goals) up forward. And Harpley kicked five in the grand final.
'He always turns up on the big days, he was good in all three grand finals," Stacey says.
The team was led by Chris Block, the defence marshalled by Charlie Vallance, who would later captain the club, and the line-up also included Sam Fisher, Tim and Chris McAuley, Josh Hagar, Luke Gerhard, Robbie Drummond, Jackson and Brad Moye, and rising stars Jack Irvine and Jacob Turner.
Temora led by two goals at half-time, just as they had in the semi-final (only to be rolled with a five-goals-to-one last quarter from EWK). Perhaps to reassure themselves, the Hawks' talked it up. But it fired up the Roos.
"We were going in at half-time and it was pretty neck-and-neck and they were being a bit cheeky, they said, 'That's it for them boys, they'll lay down from now on.' We come out and put on a bit of a show on," Reid says.
"That's my little memory of the final. It fuelled the fire I suppose."
The Hawks kicked only one second half goal. Temora went on a rampage, virtually securing victory in the third term, then soaking it right up in the fourth for a 15.10 (100) to 5.10 (40) final scoreline.
Matt Harpley finished with five and Brad Moye and Reid with two each. Crucially, at the other end, Hawks spearhead Marc Geppert was kept goalless by Charlie Vallance after kicking 95 goals in 14 games leading up to the decider.
"Probably Charlie, on Geppert, that day I thought that was pretty big, a pretty pivotal role," Stacey says is his overwhelming memory of the day.
"It was probably the most important on the ground that day because he's such a good player. Charlie just seemed to handle him alright that day and it went a long way towards helping us win so that's probably my most memorable part of the game."
Stacey was also among Temora's best as they asserted dominance in the midfield after half-time, and best-on-ground Sam Fisher led a superb team performance.
A premiership medal was satisfying enough for Reid, and reward for effort in a year when he got as fit as he's ever been and shone in a star-studded midfield under Kruger.
"He just got pipped in the b-and-f (by Hagar by one vote)," Stacey recalls. "He played really well that year, very consistent. That was probably the best year I've seen him play."
Reid was one of only three players (with Chris McAuley and Vallance) to feature in Temora's best in at least nine games.
"I didn't think I was going to get votes. I've never been a bloke who gets votes, I normally fly under the radar a bit, just do my job and have fun," Reid says. "I was fitter that year and I was hungry. Hungry for the win."
He then got his own hat-trick later by winning two flags with Marrar before going back to Temora.
With Reid, Stacey and Grant, consistent defender Gus McRae, and forwards Harpley and Jacob Turner are the only 2014 premiership players still around.
Whether a shortened season gets going remains to be seen. But if it does, Temora will be desperate to get amongst the action.
Five seasons without a premiership have now passed and Grant says he's learnt never to take it for granted.
"It never gets old really. Even years like now when you're not playing, you remember that feeling of what it was and can't wait to get back into it," Grant says.
"The difference between being competitive and winning it, it's just another level. You've got to put the work in all year, in the pre-season, push yourself all year and get everyone on the right page for the team."