By Beth Newman
The past fortnight, Todd Featherstone has found himself at the right place at the right time.
But he’s had to wait a long time to find himself there and into the third grand final of his career.
Two last-gasp Featherstone goals have propelled Labrador into today’s QAFL grand final, the one he hopes will give him his first premiership medal.
“I need to win one so I can retire,” he joked.
“It’s been a long time between grand finals.”
“After playing senior footy for nearly 15 years and only playing in two grand finals in that time, they’re so hard to make.”
“You don’t take them lightly.”
In the aftermath of the side’s preliminary final win, Featherstone was still struggling to believe his team had made it through.
“I still can’t believe we won on the weekend,” he said.
It seemed fitting that the veteran found himself in the goal square at the crucial moment two weeks in a row.
Featherstone is one of the longest-serving Labrador Tigers and has seen all the highs and lows over a 10-year career at the club.
After missing nine games last season as the Tigers struggled to a one-win season, Featherstone would have been happy just to make finals.
“If we made finals that would have been a good achievement after last year,” he said.
“It’s always been a good spot to be, but we never had the cattle to play good footy,” he said.
“Now we’ve got a lot more players and we bat a lot deeper.
“To make the grand final is unbelievable.”
It’s a grand final he might not have made, if he had decided to move to Surfers
At an individual level, Featherstone has found his niche in the midfield this season, his ferocious tackling becoming crucial for the Tigers.
“I’ve enjoyed it, it’s been good playing in a good group of guys and being in the midfield and a bit more around the ball,” he said.
Growing up in Sydney, Featherstone started out in rugby league, before switching to AFL at 18, a move he wishes he’d made sooner.
“I gave it away because I was getting hurt too much,” he said.
“Living in Sydney we never really heard about it, the Swannies (Sydney Swans) would just get a little article in the paper,
“I wish it was around a bit more when I was younger – I’d probably have a few more brain cells now.”
One of three survivors from Labrador’s 2010 grand final loss, Featherstone said that was a match he had pushed to the recesses of his mind.
“The whole day was a blur because it was so intense, the atmosphere but I still remember how it felt when we lost.
“I don’t want to feel like that again.”
A fairy tale for the Tigers would also mean a fairy tale finish for Featherstone, who said this would be his last hurrah if Labrador were to hold the cup aloft.
“If we were to win, I think I would retire,” he said.
“If it didn’t turn out that what then I’m not 100 per cent sure.”
He has plenty of reason to feel confident as well.
“We believe in our list,” he said.
“The first time we played them was round one and we were fairly new and the second time we pretty much had half our side out.
“It’s been a long time since we played them.”
And if the game is in the balance in the dying seconds, there are no prizes for guessing where Featherstone will be hanging out.