It had been 28 long seasons between premierships for Stawell Redlegs back in 1978.
The Wimmera Football League had not been conquered by the Stawell-based side in nearly three decades, but 1978 was a different season.
“I remember that season everyone was on the same page going into the year,” Stawell’s 1978 captain Max Deckert said.
“Barry Capuano our coach and the committee did a fantastic effort to put us in the best position possible at the start of the season.”
Having finished fifth at the end of the home and away season, the Redlegs had a difficult task on their hands to make it all the through to the grand final.
“I remember we struggled to get past Warracknabeal in the finals, it definitely wasn’t an easy run,” Deckert said.
Despite tough contests, the Redlegs eventually prevailed to set up a grand final against the ever-formidable Horsham Demons.
In a feature that has come to characterise Stawell sides in grand finals, its young players stood up in the deciding contest.
Playing at Warracknabeal, the Redlegs put an end to their premiership drought with a 14.17 (101) to 12.13 (85) victory to bring the premiership cup back to Stawell for the first time since 1950.
Deckert said he remember quite a lot about the game despite the match being played 40 years ago.
“What it all came down to was an even contribution on the day,” he said.
Young Brett Thompson led the way for the Redlegs in the decider, booting six goals to help his side to victory.
“Barry being the astute coach he was used young John Pollock and Brett Thompson wisely up forward who went on to be our trump cards on the day,” Deckert said.
“We all had our jobs to do and mine was to look after the rest of the boys as the ruckman and captain of the side.”
Specific details of the match have blurred over the four decades that have since passed, but one thing Deckert said he will never forget is the celebration in Stawell afterwards.
“When we got back to Stawell the welcome was just unbelievable,” he said.
“There was a sea of people waiting for us when they opened the doors of the bus. It is one of, if not the best celebrations of a premiership I have seen.”
Deckert said the win was especially important for players who had been at the club for a long time and not seen or played in a premiership.
“It was a great thing for guys who had been at Stawell a while with no success,” he said.
“It was the best team effort I have seen for a long long time and it could not have happened to a better mob of blokes.”
1978 was a particularly successful year for Stawell teams, with the Warriors also winning the Ararat District Football Association premiership that year.