Sport can be full of joy, but it can also end in pain.
Avenel and Tallygaroopna could tell you about both aspects after a classic Kyabram District Football League elimination final yesterday.
The Swans had the game won in the second quarter, before losing it in the third and then pinching it again at the death.
It was a courageous victory from Don Stirling’s men, who kicked three goals in the last five minutes to snatch a five-point at Avenel.
You could have wrote your own ticket for a bet on Tallygaroopna at half-time yesterday.
At 43 points down playing in enemy territory and with inspirational superstar Tyson Sidebottom on the bench injured, the Redlegs’ season was done.
Supporters could have been forgiven for grabbing their keys and heading for the exit and players’ focus thinking ahead to end-of-year celebrations.
But the boys in red and blue produced a courageous comeback to stun Avenel and lead by 15 points midway through the last quarter when Jayden Goodwin kicked his third goal.
The Redlegs were flat in the second term and could not have played much worse.
They were a completely different team that reappeared after the break, while Avenel had stopped chasing and doing the things that had got it in front.
Avenel had kicked six goals to three behinds in the second quarter, but that was reversed in the third term as the Redlegs piled on 8.5.
Stirling said the win showed great character considering how frustrating it had been to give up a huge lead.
‘‘You think you’re out of the game, but we had guys step up at the right time, like Andrew Green going back and putting his body on the line and making a few contests,’’ Stirling said.
‘‘We were up and that mental lapse cost us and we thought we were going to run away with it, which never happens in a final.
‘‘To Tally’s credit they kept pushing, but in the last five minutes we were eventually able to get some entries into our forward line and start some drive off half back.
‘‘We had the run in the last five minutes, so I couldn’t have asked for anything more from the guys.
‘‘The Avenel of two or three years ago would’ve just given in at that moment, so we’ve come a long way.’’
Veteran ruckman Paul Arandt did a power of work in the ruck all day, while Stirling and Morgan got the Swans going out of the midfield.
Mitch Thomas booted three important goals and Chris Burton did his job as a key forward with four to go to 62 majors for the season.
Max Lawrence and Nick Goodwin were vital contributors, while Scott Tyers was influential down back.
The heartbreak was real for the Redlegs, who put in a power of work to get back in the game.
Doug Wren, Tim Karolidis, Kane Handley and Marrick Tucker played significant roles in the third quarter to get back in the game, as did Goodwin who always looked threatening across half-forward.
Tallygaroopna exits the finals in the first week for the second year in a row, but made significant improvements this season.
The Redlegs will search for a new coach after Chris Earles told the club that he would not be continuing in the role after four seasons in charge.