FOR decades, Koroit has enviously viewed Warrnambool as a powerhouse it would love to topple.
It was a case of the hard-working folk from a small country town with their local lads against the well-heeled big city club that always had the resources to land the prized recruits.
Koroit measured success on a win against ‘them’. Warrnambool measured success in silverware.
As one Koroit person put it yesterday, the Saints’ once-a-year trip to Reid Oval was their grand final. Maybe it stemmed from their first six seasons in the Hampden league when they ‘won’ six consecutive wooden spoons between 1961 and 1966. Warrnambool won three flags from four grand final appearances in the same period.
That predicated an enduring rivalry. But for all the blood, sweat and tears, Koroit was rarely able to overthrow the rulers.
Koroit might have won a battle but Warrnambool would win the war. In the 39 seasons from 1961 to 1999, Warrnambool won 12 flags from 14 grand final appearances, while Koroit won two premierships from two appearances.
But times have changed.
Since 2000, Koroit has made 14 consecutive finals series and today’s grand final will be its sixth. It has won three premierships. Warrnambool has played in 11 finals series in the same period and won four flags from nine premiership deciders.
Koroit is no longer on the outside looking in. It is a powerhouse in its own right and a victory today would draw it level with Warrnambool over the 14-year journey.
The two clubs have only met in grand finals twice — 2001, when Warrnambool won, and 2009, when Koroit triumphed by 39 points.
Adam Dowie coached Warrnambool in that 2009 showdown — today he coaches Koroit. Times have changed.
Koroit’s 2009 premiership coach Joe McLaren remains a key forward today and his brother Chris remains a key defender. Times haven’t changed.
Another grand chapter in a rich history is set to be played out today.