THE 2020 Hampden league final series was pencilled into start this weekend. But with the coronavirus pandemic wiping out the entire season, The Standard has decided to take a walk down memory lane. Across the next four weeks we'll reflect on some finals specials.
TERANG Mortlake needed someone to step up and wrest the advantage.
Enter 16-year-old Lewis Taylor.
The eye-catching teenager, now 25 and 118 games into his AFL career, turned the 2011 Hampden league elimination final in the Bloods' favour.
The result was a two-point win against North Warrnambool Eagles at Cobden Recreation Reserve.
Damian O'Connor was playing coach of Terang Mortlake that day nine years ago.
He recalls the 175-centimetre dynamo causing havoc for the Eagles in the second half.
"To be honest, we all had shocking games and he stood up in the third quarter or the last quarter," O'Connor said.
"When we needed someone to stand up, he was the one who was breaking the lines and busted the game open.
"It was a tight final, as they all are, and Lewy went to that extra level that no one else could find at that stage.
"He was able to get through a few tackles and that opened it up for us. It was a couple of good things that split the teams."
O'Connor said he knew Taylor, who won the Hampden league rising star award in 2011, "was going to be a good player".
"Anyone who can do that is a pretty valuable player in the Hampden league. A turn of speed helps in country footy," he said.
"He was young but he was confident in his ability as well. He wasn't just going to give it to the first option, he was happy to take it on.
"He wasn't scared to try something, home or away game or a final I don't think it really mattered."
O'Connor, who coached Terang Mortlake for two seasons, said the Bloods faced a tough challenge from the Eagles that day.
"North, I don't think they'd won a final at that stage, and being so close to winning one they got their fans going," he said.
"It was a pretty contested game. David Haynes was the main one we were worried about.
"They were a pretty dangerous side. We probably tightened up a little bit as well, being the favourite to win. It plays in the back of your mind."
Taylor fronted up against Warrnambool in the first semi-final the next weekend.
The Blues had the Bloods' measure, winning by 44 points.
"He got heavily tagged in the game against Warrnambool," O'Connor, who was knocked out in that game and handed the coaching duties to Xavier McKinnon, said.
It was the last time Taylor played for his home club.
NAB League commitments with Geelong Falcons and Vic Country honours the following two seasons kept him busy before he was drafted to Brisbane at the end of 2013.
Taylor, who won the AFL rising star award in his first year, was traded to Sydney ahead of the 2020 season and has played six of a possible 13 matches so far for his new club.
"It is hard because there's no NEAFL (this year) and those AFL-listed players have to play scratchies amongst themselves with 12 or 14 a side," O'Connor said of earning a recall.
"It's hard to gauge how they're going.
"It's probably more just waiting for a spot to open up.
"With (Tom) Papley, they have a couple of good small forwards down there so he's probably got to bide his time a little bit."