THE 2020 Hampden league grand final was pencilled in this weekend. But with the coronavirus pandemic wiping out the entire season, The Standard has decided to take a walk down memory lane instead.
CHRIS McLaren remembers trudging into the Reid Oval change rooms at half-time thinking Koroit's premiership drought would stretch into a 31st season.
The captain, then just 23, considered the Saints' chances of reeling in a 49-point deficit slim and allowed himself a moment of self-pity.
"I do remember coming in at half-time thinking 'we can't win' and it was pretty sombre," the now Koroit coach told The Standard this week, 17 years on from the 2003 grand final.
"I went and sat in the showers I think which was really ordinary from a captain's point of view and selfish.
"Everyone went into their own little corners to have a sulk about it.
"I remember sitting there and 'Ants' Mahony came in.
"He gave me a serve, ripped into me and told me what you would tell someone if they were having a sook about things.
"He's been a great Koroit man over his journey but gave me a fair clip. It is certainly something you'd never do again, something I am not proud of."
McLaren noticed the mood in the Koroit rooms shift.
Coach Jason Mifsud delivered a rousing pep talk which reignited the Saints' belief.
"We were thinking 'we can win, if we click into gear'," McLaren said.
The rest, as they say, is history. Koroit slammed on 13 goals to Camperdown's five in the second half to run out 17.8 (110) to 15.13 (103) winners in a decider for the ages.
Mifsud kicked eight, Simon O'Keefe, then just 21, collected 31 disposals.
The come-from-behind win banished the Saints' grand final demons and was their third premiership alongside the 1971 and '73 victories.
"I'd lost plenty of junior ones and had lost one at (Geelong) Falcons in '98 and two at Koroit in 2000 and '01 and was fully expecting to lose another one at half-time," McLaren said.
Koroit has added eight more flags - 2007, '09 and the past six - since the great recovery of 2003. O'Keefe said the Saints had flirted with premiership success before breaking through.
"When Noel Mugavin came (in 1996) and then Jase took over, we were always thereabouts," he recalled this week.
"It had been 26 years, 27 years, it just kept going. It got to that 30-year mark and I think everyone got sick of saying how long it was going to be until we won it again.
"We went in a bit quiet but 10 minutes in the rooms and then it was yelling and carrying on, it was good motivation."
O'Keefe, who ended his career a four-time Koroit premiership player, said everything "fell into place" in the second half.
"We went out there with a defensive mindset," he said of the first half.
"They came out and dominated us early and when we went in at half-time Jase and the coaching staff said 'righto, there's only one way to win this and it's attack, attack, attack'.
"It all started in the middle with big (Luke) McInerney winning the taps. We started pumping it in the forward line, Jase was on the end of a few."
McLaren said "as the third quarter rolled on you could feel momentum changing".
How the Saints hit the front is a blur but one final-quarter goal stands out.
"I remember a Brad Cassidy goal from over near the hockey corner which was unbelievable," McLaren said.
"He was on his hands and knees, stood up and had to jump over someone almost, he was a left-footer, stuck in the pocket and had a big hook from that corner that went through."
Mifsud's bag of eight has become the stuff of football folklore.
"It was the isolation, he got everyone else up the ground," McLaren said.
"How footy is coached now is so much different, it's hard to believe they just didn't fill their back line up.
"I remember him picking it up one-handed, holding blokes off him and kicking across the body."
McLaren rated O'Keefe and Peter Byrne's performances too.
"'Tocka', along with one or two others, is probably the best big-game player we've had at Koroit," he said.
Celebrations were long and just as important for the club's long-suffering fans.
"The most rewarding part after the game was seeing how much they enjoyed it," O'Keefe said.
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