Physically and emotionally drained, Jermain Walford was also feeling an immense sense of pride and satisfaction after the Euraba side he coordinated finished third at the National Indigenous Touch Football Knockout.
After taking out C grade at the inaugural carnival last year, the Tamworth-based side went to Dubbo with ambitions of competing for the A grade silverware.
They achieved their mission. Playing in honour of founder Vivian Knox, who sadly passed away last year, they just missed out on contesting the top division final.
After going down to defending champions Castlereagh All Blacks in a close contest 3-2 first-up on Sunday, their run was ended by eventual champions Trackz, the side containing former NRL star Scott Prince victorious 8-1 to advance through to the final.
“It was late in the day on the second day and most of us were just buggered,” Walford said.
“They had an Australian (touch) side pretty much. They were very structured and very fit.”
Euraba scored first but a lack of communication led to Trackz hitting back, and they “ran away with it”.
Celebrating 30 years since Euraba was first formed, Walford was very proud of how the side performed.
“A local team from Tamworth and we ran third in a national competition and put it to the best in Australia,” he said.
They were undefeated on the first day, winning a tight contest against the Kamilaroi Dreamerz 9-8 first-up, before scoring an emotional 4-all with Come Back Dreaming.
Walford had learnt just before the game that his brother Isaiah Spearim had passed away.
In a fitting tribute that even made the opposition cry, he at one stage spun through a hole and stepped his way around several defenders to score.
“I put the ball down, fist pumped the air, kissed my arm (where he had Isaiah’s name written) and cried,” he said.
They rounded out the day with a 4-3 win over the Condobolin Boomerangs, which put them them into A grade.
Walford spoke of how much it meant for the team to play in honour of their family and their culture.
“We put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” he said.
“It was such an honour to play for Euraba and in memory of these people who have passed on.”
He already thinking about next year and is hopeful of snagging a star recruit for their campaign.
He spoke to Prince after their game about the possibility of him playing for Euraba next year.