In Mushies land, where the road travelled is lined with premierships and the main topic of conversation is prefixed by a hashtag, a core group of players occupy a special position.
It is those players who have served as the nucleus of the side’s audacious bid for a 10th straight grand final this year, a seventh premiership in a decade and a fourth consecutive title.
Some of them have been constants throughout the glory years, while others have taken a year off to “refresh”, as Mushies coach Tim Coates put it.
Coates reeled off the names of those players: Lachlan Browne, Chris Fenton, Brendon Fergie, Luke Purcell, Benn Gennardinni, Adam Watson and Glenn McKnight.
If Oxley Vale Attunga fulfil what the club may see as their destiny – #shootingfor10 has been a feature on social media this year – that core player group will be key to that happening.
Coates, in charge of the side for the three-peat of premierships, said: “I think the remarkable point, in my perspective having been around sport along time, is some of these guys have played all the time and some of the guys have taken a year off and come back, but they continue to perform at a good standard for bush football.”
In Australia, the grandaddy of team sporting streaks is St George’s 11 straight rugby league premierships from 1956 to 1966.
“There are glorious legends in different areas of the country about teams that have done that (played in 10 straight grand finals. In some spaces it’s more grand finals than that,” Coates said.
“It’s a pretty good thing having core groups wanting to stay together and inspiring (one another) to stay together. The St George team of the 1960s is in that space, from what I’ve heard about them.”
The Mushies, again at the top of the table, meet bottom side Joeys FC at home on Saturday, with old hands ably supported by new generation players such as holding midfielders Tim Smith and Michael Cooke. “I’m very lucky to have these people playing for me,” Coates said.
In other games on Saturday, East Armidale host Norths United, Tamworth FC welcome Demon Knights and Companions host South Armidale.