THE prospect of one day becoming a premiership player remains an ever-present motivator for footballers.
Dennington defender Nic Shortt is no exception.
He punctured his lung playing against Russells Creek in 2010 — just seven weeks into his first campaign with the Dogs.
His doctor told him to seriously consider his playing future.
But Shortt, 30, was back on the field six weeks later.
“The doctor said at the time you’ve got a fairly big risk of blowing it out again if you go back and play,” Shortt said yesterday.
“But, like any footballer, you listen to words and take them as a grain of salt if you want to win a flag.
“I’ve not even been fortunate enough to play in a losing grand final, let alone a winning one.
“Like every bloke, I want to play in flags.
‘‘I’ll keep playing until I get one.”
The injury was the first drama of a bizarre season for the boy from Apsley, who arrived at Dennington via Koroit.
Shortt recovered, found form in the reserves and played seniors in round 18 — only to tear a hamstring.
He proved his fitness for the grand final but found himself as the first emergency.
Dennington would ultimately lose to Kolora-Noorat by eight points in a thriller.
He played just two games in 2011 and “couldn’t be bothered” in 2012, when he played 15 of his 18 games in the twos.
“I’ve had a long history of soft-tissue injuries, really found it hard to get into the swing of things, got sick of it really,” he said.
“Where I had come from, we played five years in drought conditions.
‘‘Moving here to the freezing cold conditions, it took its toll.”
But season 2013 has been different — and could yet finish with that long-awaited premiership.
Shortt started in the twos but has played every game since June in the ones.
He has become a key cog in a Dennington defensive unit which kept Allansford to three goals in the elimination final last Sunday.
The Dogs’ next assignment arrives tomorrow, when they play Merrivale at Mack Oval in the first semi-final.
“We were talking (on Thursday night), this week is the first week for the whole year we’ve had an unchanged list,” Shortt said.
“I think the boys are fairly confident internally of what we’re capable of achieving as a group.
“We definitely go into this weekend as the underdogs.
“But (coach) Darcy (Lewis) has done a really good job of getting the boys mentally refreshed.”