TEN years ago, Nathan Shand played in a premiership for Panmure.
Today he has the chance to play in a second flag with his beloved Bulldogs.
“I am excited and a bit nervous,” Shand said.
“It’s been a good build-up.”
Kolora-Noorat is Panmure’s opponent today.
A decade ago, it was Merrivale.
That day the Bulldogs ran out 30-point winners, adding the 2002 premiership to their 2001 flag.
Shand, then 21, played on a wing.
It’s where he will line up today at Warrnambool’s Reid Oval.
On the field, Shand, Tim Condon and Sean James are the three remaining links to that 2002 premiership.
The chance to play in another grand final for Panmure almost slipped from Shand’s grip.
Shand hurt his neck earlier this season.
It was an injury he described as “the worst injury I have had in my career”.
He spent 10 weeks on the sidelines, came back through the reserves and returned to play seniors against Kolora-Noorat in the Bulldogs’ second semi-final loss.
“I didn’t think I’d get back and play this year,” he said. “I was lucky a gap opened up in the team.”
Kolora-Noorat won that match, wrestling premiership favouritism off Panmure.
“We were a bit off that day and they were on,” Shand said.
“It’s about winning the ball in the middle, that old cliche.
“They are skilful, speedy and smart footballers.
“They have been there before and know what to do. It’s up for us to counter that.”
Shand, a right-footer who tries to “fill the gaps” and run “as much as the old legs can”, said if the weather conditions today were wet and windy, both sides would adapt.
“We both come from grounds with similar ground conditions,” he said.
“We live up the road from each other so we’re all farmers and have trained and played in the wet.
“It will be an even contest no matter what the weather.”
A father of four young daughters and Hawthorn fan, Shand said he would probably step aside from senior football next season but would remain at the club and possibly run out with the reserves.