A TOPSY-turvy year for Northern Districts reigning premiers Gin Gin Hawks will culminate this weekend in a grand final show down with Miriam Vale Magpies.
The Hawks are flying high after an upset 26-12 win over Avondale Tigers in the NDRL preliminary final at Shark Park in South Kolan on Sunday.
The victory is a just reward for president Doug Simonsen who had more than a few sleepness nights after a devastating start to the season.
“What the boys have achieved is truly remarkable,” he said.
“They have triumphed in the face of considerable adversity and each one of them deserves to be congratulated.”
A mass exodus of players before the start of the season – including the defection of captain-coach Nigel Shields – crippled the Hawks leaving the team with a core unit of only five players.
Embarrassing shorelines were soon to follow as last year’s heroes became the whipping boys of the 2010 competition.
The situation reached a crisis point in a round three 68-0 mauling at the hands of South Kolan Sharks.
The dizzying fall from grace did not end until Gin Gin was left grasping at the bottom rung of the competition ladder – a position it held for the duration of the regular season.
“It’s been a long and rocky road, but to the guys’ credit they’ve copped the knocks and they’ve kept on going,” Simonsen said.
Simonsen joined with new coach Lennox Cassidy in re-building the depleted side and said the win against Avondale is proof the transformation is now complete.
“We were left clutching at straws, but we’ve managed to field a team of passionate and hard-working footballers,” he said.
“It was a slow process but we got there in the end and I couldn’t be prouder.”
The prospect of back-to-back premierships has instilled plenty of confidence and passion in his side, but Simonsen said the battle is far from over.
“The Magpies are a pretty formidable and have talent spread right across the field,” he said.
“If the boys play at their best we’ll be right in there, but it’s not going to be an easy game.”
Gin Gin Hawks will play Miriam Vale Magpies at 6.45pm at Gary Larson Oval.