Hayden Chappel, like a lot of his Inverell teammates, has felt the heartbreak of losing a grand final.
After joining the Saints in 2013, Chappel played in the final two, of eight straight, grand final appearances by Inverell from 2007-2014.
In that time, the Saints won two and lost six grand finals. Neither of the winning years was when Chappel was at the club.
But now, after Saturday’s triumph over the Gunnedah Bulldogs, Chappel not only has a premiership medal but also the Graham Nuttall Medal for best on ground in the grand final.
“It’s pretty special,” Chappel said.
“I thought it could have gone to 20 of us today. We all played the role the coach told us to. So we wouldn't have done it without the 22 blokes. This is just too good, really.”
Chappel added: “I played the first two grannys in ‘13 and ‘14 when we [Inverell] got pumped by Armidale so it’s good to get out there today and actually have a win. One from three.”
Chappel’s job wasn’t easy in the final.
He entered unfamiliar territory when Bulldogs captain Ben Maher was sent out to tag the Saint.
“It was a little bit different. Changes the game plan a little bit,” Chappel said.
“The whole back six worked really well.
“If I’m not the spare, then we’ve got Beauy Coles, and we’ve got Mick Corcoran, Sam Kimmince. We gelled really well, the back six.”
Chappel was a “sore” man after the match and for good reason.
The backman said the Bulldogs played a “quality game of football”.
“It was tough. We got to a big six or eight-goal lead at three-quarter-time and to Gunnedah’s credit, they kept coming, kept coming. Chipping away, chipping away,” Chappel said.
“They had us on the back foot and ended up with just 14, 16 points in it in the end.
“To their credit, they played a hell of a game of football. It’s a tough track out there. Really wet. One step forwards, two steps back almost.”
Originally from the Echuca area in Victoria, Chappel is now based in Warialda for work and makes the trip in for training and games each week.
“A bit of a hike into training, 100 ks, but it’s worth it in the end.”