As Inverell coach Justin Pay put it after the full-time siren sounded at a muddy Varley Oval on Saturday: “It’s been a long time coming.”
The Saints had just secured their first senior men’s AFL North West premiership since 2010.
Pay was a part of that premiership-winning side and to do it again meant the world to the coach.
“On top of the world. Couldn’t be better,” Pay said after the game.
But it wasn’t just the premiership that made the day special for Pay.
It was having the whole Saints community there to support all three grades who had made the grand final.
“When I started in 2008, we only had one team, now we’ve got three. The atmosphere at this club is huge,” Pay said.
“I have to throw a massive thank you out to Jason Gobbert, our president, he does a tonne of work and today is a testament to the work our committee has done. It’s absolutely awesome to be here with such a huge crowd.”
The win was well earned by the minor premiers who survived a final quarter comeback by the Gunnedah Bulldogs to claim an 11.12 (78) to 10.2 (62) victory.
Inverell did the bulk of the damage in the second quarter which saw the home side go from a 15-point lead to a 44-point lead.
The Saints then held a 47-point buffer after the third term.
At that point, Pay reiterated there was still a ways to go to claim the flag.
“I told the boys there’s still one quarter to go and to leave no doubt. We got a bit shaky in that last quarter so the message didn't quite come across the way I wanted it to,” Pay said.
In the final term, the Dogs kicked the first three goals to reduce the margin back to 28 points before Michael Gould kicked his fifth goal of the match to steady the ship.
The Bulldogs kept coming but ultimately couldn’t plug back the big margin.
It left Gunnedah coach Andrew George with a “funny feeling” post-match.
“Obviously disappointed but at the same time very proud of all the boys and the way they finished the game in the last quarter,” George said.
“I think we heavily outscored them. It’s a shame it didn’t come earlier but we’ll hold our heads up.”
While Gould had a huge game for the Saints, it was Hayden Chappel who claimed the best on ground award.
Pay thought it was just deserts for the influential backman.
“Without a doubt. He’s been the best player, in my opinion, in the league all year. Definitely our best player,” Pay said.
“He had a cracking game today. He was well supported by young Tyler Desborough. He played the best game I’ve ever seen him play.
“Our guys put in 100 per cent across the paddock.”
Inverell also manged to taste victory in the juniors grand final.
The Saints beat Moree 13.21 (99) to 3.2 (20) in that game.
Meanwhile, in the women’s grand final the Tamworth Kangaroos beat Inverell 4.2 (26) to 1.6 (12).
Stories on these games will be published in the coming days.