HEYWOOD is one step away from a fairytale premiership.
The once-battling Lions have booked the first berth in the South West District league grand final after upstaging Westerns in the second semi-final.
The shot at a flag comes one season after the club finished winless, demoralised and without a reserves side in its farewell Western Border league campaign.
Heywood won 14.11 (95) to 11.12 (78) at Tyrendarra Recreation Reserve having pulled away from the 'Roos with an impressive third term.
Second-year Heywood coach Shane Keegan said the victory had done wonders for the playing group and long-suffering fans.
Heywood last played in a finals campaign in 1997 15 years ago. It played in one WBFL senior grand final, losing to East Gambier in 1965.
"It's been a long time coming. Around the club last night, they're exciting times, particularly for the supporters," he said.
"A lot of the older people who have been around the club for a long time are over the moon. It's for so much more than just the playing group. The playing group has a big responsibility on its hands to do more but it's about so much more.
"All the people who have been around the club through the hard times, they're really enjoying it."
Heywood onballer Ben Nash was best on ground while assistant coach Aaron Barr stood tall at half-forward and half back.
Full-forward Michael Wilson and the smaller Jordan Vaughan each kicked three goals.
Tim Annett kicked four goals for Westerns, who had former Lismore-Derrinallum footballer Damian Pemberton as their best.
Keegan, a four-time premiership player at various clubs, said a Heywood flag would be unrivalled because of how far back the club had come from.
It would also be his first grand final triumph as coach and allow him to retire from the game on a high.
"This would mean a lot, just being with the club for quite a while now," he said.
"I've played over 100 games at Heywood and come through with a lot of these blokes, it'll mean a hell of a lot."
Tyrendarra kicked six goals in the final term to win the first semi-final against Dartmoor 11.9 (75) to 9.9 (63).