Horsham has plenty of strapping tape and a would-be judge of the County Court to thank for their 1979 Wimmera Football League premiership.
A last-minute tribunal meeting, an injured key forward and a personal connection with the opposition were just some of the obstacles Horsham faced on their way to an unconventional premiership win.
Come the morning of the grand final, Horsham expected to be without their premier ruckman David Burke.
Burke was staring down a two-week suspension after he was reported for allegedly striking an opponent in the Demons' preliminary final victory against Ararat.
But, against most's expectations, Burke was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Victorian Country Football League (VCFL) on the morning of the game.
Horsham coach Peter Morrison had all but left his number one ruckman out his plans.
"I don't know how he got off it; I've got no idea," he said.
"It was a pretty rushed sort of an effort after he got rubbed out on the Tuesday. We appealed it with the league, and that didn't work so then we went straight to the VCFL.
"That itself was a surprise because normally it would take a while back then."
The VCFL was then the state's governing football body.
With a fierce contest against a favoured Murtoa on the cards, it was a last roll of the dice for the Demons.
The pressure fell on their gun full-forward John Jordan to perform off the football field.
"He'd been playing for a couple of years up here, and he just happened to be a solicitor," Morrison said.
"So he sort of took it on and defended him (Burke) at the tribunal. It was pretty handy really."
Jordan successfully fought the decision.
"They squashed the two weeks and allowed him to play," Morrison said.
Jordan was no slouch on the football field either. He previously played for Collingwood's reserves side before moving to Horsham.
Since hanging up the boots, Jordan's gone on to have a successful legal career, and the former Demon now serves as a judge in the County Court of Victoria.
With the Demons' ruckman secured in the lineup, attention shifted to injured forward Phil Bunn.
"It was touch and go whether I would get to the starting line I guess," Bunn said.
"I hurt my ankle playing the weekend before in the preliminary final, and it was pretty bad."
Peter Morrison shared an earnest assessment of his teammate's injury.
"It was as black as the ace of spades, and his ankle was about two times the size it should be," he said. "They wanted to put needles in it, but the doctor said he didn't think he'd be able to put enough in."
The decision was made to strap Bunn's ankle before the game and hope for the best.
"The doctor thought my ankle was too bad for painkillers," he said. "With the amount it needed the doctor said I wouldn't even be able to feel my foot."
The injury forced the Demons to restructure their forward line in what turned out to be an inspired move, as a more advanced Bunn kicked eight goals.
"I had played most of that year at centre half-forward, and because of my injury I swapped positions with our full-forward John Jordan, who played exceptionally well," Bunn said.
"John had a ripper of a game, and I sort of went down to the goal square and things sort of worked out alright as well.
"I guess there were a few circumstances that kind of lead to everything and it all worked out in the end.
"But, it was definitely a result of some terrific work across the whole board. It was pretty easy up top when you had the service we did coming in."
Horsham entered the final as the underdog, despite coasting through the regular season with one of the strongest teams in the league.
Their grand final opponents, Murtoa, defeated the Demons only two weeks prior in the semi-final.
"A couple of weeks earlier, evidently, Murtoa, had cleaned us up quite easily," Bunn said.
"They had a pretty good team, and we then had to come through the prelim, which itself obviously caused a bit of drama."
Peter Morrison was well aware of the threat posed by Murtoa. He had only left the club the year before to take up the coaching role at Horsham.
"I was coaching Murtoa before, and my first year out of that I was coaching Horsham in a grand final against Murtoa," Morrison said.
The hundreds who flanked Dimboola's oval in support witnessed one of the highest scoring grand finals in the league's history.
"It was a really hard-fought game, and in the end, I think we kicked 24, and they kicked 18," Morrison said.
The Demons prevailed 24.14 (158) to 18.16 (124).
"Peter was in the engine room, and he was fantastic. It was a pleasure getting on the end of some of his kicks," Phil Bunn said. "But, it was really a strong team we had, with winners in all areas of the ground."
"I was an outsider who just moved to the team and was lucky to be in the right place, at the right time."
Morrison had fond recollections of his 1979 premiership team.
"I always thought we had a really good side, which we did. It was a great group."
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