WHEN Mitchell Swain decided to trade in his Gunnedah Bulldogs AFL jersey for Manilla Tigers' colours, he did so with a goal in mind.
He wanted to help the club reclaim its former glory by winning a premiership.
Having sat out the 2018 Group 4 season, the Manilla Tigers re-entered the competition through reserve grade and put in a stellar season.
The Tigers capped off that stellar season with a gripping 22-18 grand final victory over the Kootingal-Moonbi Roosters at Jack Woolaston Oval on Saturday.
Swain was at the forefront of the Tigers' victory, coming off the bench to help set up a strong second half for the Tigers.
"It's been great to be involved in the club this year," Swain told the Leader.
"All of the boys have put in a lot of effort and to cap it off like this is really exciting.
"It's a massive result for not just us players, but the whole Manilla community."
Swain's last game of AFL came in the Bulldogs' 2018 grand final defeat at the hands of the Inverell Saints.
Despite the desire to avenge Gunnedah's loss, Swain was keen to try his hand at rugby league in a decision he described as "a bold move".
"I really wanted to give league another go before I got too old and busted," he said.
"It's been a lot of fun to play with guys like Ben Taber, Abel Carney and captain-coach Mitch Doring.
"I did pick up a bit of a knee injury during the season, which was a bit of a shame.
"However, it has been a lot of fun this year, I'm really glad I made the move and I was really excited to see the Bulldogs get up as well."
A long-time cricket teammate of Swain's, Carney said he played a major hand in bring Swain to the club.
"Mitch is a really good player and has been an awesome inclusion for us this season," Carney said.
"He is a good mate of mine, so it is really special to share this experience with him.
"The whole town of Manilla has thrown their support behind us, with all the shopfronts being decked out in our colours and all the schools supporting us as well.
"It really is a massive win for us and I'm glad I could do it alongside Mitch."
Swain said he would now turn his attention to "chasing another premiership" in the Tamworth District Cricket Association.
"In the short-term, I think I will be pretty focused on celebrating this win with the boys," he said.
"But then after that, I will certainly turn my attention back to cricket.
"We were able to win a premiership last year at Old Boys and I would love to do it again."