By Beth Newman
Only a year ago, Springwood captain, Mark Thompson, had resigned himself to a football career without a finals match.
So, on Saturday, when the Pumas beat the Western Magpies and put themselves through to the 2013 Allied Pickfords cup grand final, Thompson could barely contain his emotions.
“To be presented with the opportunity to play in a flag…it’s just ridiculous,” he said.
“I thought I would go through my football career and never play finals footy and I’d accepted that.”
Having spent seven struggling seasons at the Pumas, including a winless 2008, Thompson said the win was not just for the 22 on field.
“I think of the president and the football manager and you just see the look on their faces after that,” he said.
“It’s for them.
“We’ve been at the bottom of the barrel for so long and it’s all about the boys that have been there forever.”
While Springwood has attracted some top line talent this season, Thompson said it was the core group of Pumas stalwarts that had propelled the side to success this year.
“The thing that makes me the happiest is it’s not the big names that have gotten us here,” he said.
“It’s the (Matt) Preston-Smiths, the (Josh) Brownies, the (Jacob) Kings, the guys that have been here since day dot.”
Thompson could only stand in disbelief at the enigmatic Rhan Hooper’s efforts on the weekend.
“How good was he? I mean, did you see those goals?”
The biggest game of his career also had one of the biggest crowds, which Thompson said made a massive difference.
“That crowd today, they just got behind us,” he said.
“We kicked a few goals and to hear them behind you, was just exhilarating.”
The 26 year-old saved the most effusive praise for coach, Tony King, who took over the reins in round nine, 2012.
“Everything he touches turns to gold,” he said.
“He’s got an amazing charisma about him and you just cannot hate the bloke.
“He has to man manage every single player differently and he does a brilliant job.”
King, who was this week named Division One Coach of the Year, said the strength of the playing group has made the difference on Saturday.
“They’re an amazing group,” he said.
“They’ve just got this will to win.”
The Pumas will face the winner of this weekend’s preliminary final in a September 14 grand final, at Giffin Park, Coorparoo.