The anticipation began building as soon as the ref’s whistle sounded the end of the knock-out semi final two weekends ago.
The Blackall Magpies, fresh from the announcement that they had won the central west rugby league’s minor premiership, their first in 40 years, had hoped to book themselves and their supporters a home grand final a week earlier, but the Ilfracombe Scorpions spoiled that plan.
The team had to make the grand final the hard way, overcoming the Barcaldine Sandgoannas to contest the 2018 central west rugby league grand final.
In the week that followed, Blackall decked itself in black and white streamers and put up signs of support all round town, even soliciting the support of Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser when he arrived in the middle of the excited preparations.
On the big day last Saturday a solid stream of traffic, two buses with 70 supporters among them, made the two hour trip west, tumbling out at the Ilfracombe Sports Oval with a big bass drum, a cowbell, and excitement, hope and passion in equal measure.
Pots of black and white face paint were passed around and the battle was begun.
As the minutes ticked away in the second half and the half-time score went from 12-8 in Blackall’s favour to 18-8, then 22-8, the cheering turned into a steady roar of delight as the result became more certain.
At the sounding of the final siren there was no stopping hundreds of overjoyed Magpies supporters from streaming onto the grounds to embrace their players and claim Blackall’s first premiership for 30 years.