For most Illawarra football fans, Woonona's Premier League title win looked like a bolt from the blue.
But, as those in the Sharks' inner circle know, that would undersell the hard work of coach Dan McGoldrick and his support crew.
That process started about three years ago. McGoldrick had been surprisingly cut by Fernhill - after guiding them to a Premier League promotion - and he was ready for his next challenge.
In 2018, the Sharks finished their Premier League campaign in 11th spot. In 2019, they narrowly missed out on making finals.
Ahead of the 2020 season, Woonona's plans were thrown a spanner in the works. Bigger clubs had come knocking looking at young talent, while the effect of COVID-19 meant that several recruits were unable to come down and play.
Due to COVID, the club wasn't able to pay their players or their coach.
But, despite these setbacks, the Sharks have gone from strength to strength. And when they lifted the IPL premiers trophy on October 4 - their first title win in the club's 131-year history - it was a very satisfying moment for McGoldrick.
"It's been great. To be fair though, I think the last three years have been a building process. We've worked hard to build a culture, but it's difficult to call it that because probably the biggest single factor involving culture is winning. If you're not winning, it doesn't really matter," he said.
"We've got a good bunch of blokes in all three grades and all coaches are on the same page. That helps a lot, that means the transition from the lower grades to first grade, should they be required, is a lot smoother. The kids that come up know what to do and how we play. It's something that's happened more so this season than previous ones.
"I had a pretty deep squad last year, I had 16 or 17 guys who could all play first grade. But when you have any kind of success, the big clubs come calling. We lost nine out of that 16. We then re-recruited, and then with COVID coming in we lost five who decided to stay closer to home. It was a bit of a rebuild but we've got a nice bunch of guys there."
And while the 2020 season isn't over, the Sharks already have an eye on next season. Last Saturday, the club announced they had retained McGoldrick for 2021. He will once against be assisted by Michael Grew and Ian Cirson.
"In six years of coaching, it was nice to be reappointed well before the season commences," he said.
"It gives us the advantage of trying to do a little bit of forward planning which we didn't get to do last year. The young guys that Michael Grew brought across [this season] from Bulli were great. They're not all necessarily Bulli juniors, some are from Thirroul, some Woonona juniors. They're all local kids and they were thrust into the lions den and they've not only survived, they've thrived. They've done really well."
Many of those youngsters are now gearing up for the first ever IPL finals series.
The likes of Taro Regan Williams, Luke Toohey, Robbie Gaudiosi and Damien Grew will be vital if the Sharks are any chance to win the premiership in a fortnight's time.
But it will be a difficult process for Woonona. Standing in their way this Sunday at Macedonia Park are an experienced Wollongong United outfit, who will be hungry for success.
United had appeared to have one hand on the premiers trophy heading into the final round of the regular season. However, the side had a shock 3-2 loss to Coniston. On the same day, Woonona recorded a 3-0 win over South Coast United, opening the door for the Sharks to finish in the IPL's top position.
In the end, Woonona and United finished on 23 competition points - but one goal separated the two teams.
Fast-forward two weeks and Sunday's winner will book their spot in this year's Premier League grand final on November 1. The losing side will get a double chance and will meet either Bulli or Albion Park in next week's preliminary final.
The Sharks will be the fresher side after having the first week of finals off. And while there's plenty of incentive on the line for his side on Sunday, McGoldrick refuses to underestimate United.
"I don't think they'll be lacking anything in motivation. The circumstances under which we won the league and they lost it means they will be highly motivated," he said.
"I watched them play against Bulli last weekend. In patches, both sides were excellent and they're the only two sides that we've lost to this season. Obviously we don't go in there cocky because we haven't beaten either of those sides. In fairness, in the Bulli game, they beat us 2-1 and were probably good value for the win. I was a little bit unsure of how we'd go so we were a little bit more defensive. In the United game, I think we were the better side on the day. But at the end of the day, it comes down to putting away your chances and the goalkeeper for them had an outstanding game and made some really good saves, as he did in the game on the weekend. And I know they've got some players to come back as well so they'll be at full strength. It's going to be a very tough game."
For McGoldrick, the key to victory could be the "team that takes their chances". But he also believes it's important that Woonona sticks to their strengths.
"We're probably not in the same league up front as United or Bulli. We're more of a collective team where the goals have been spread around. I think everyone bar one player and the keeper has scored, which is pretty good," he said.
"But I'm looking forward to the challenge. It's at their home ground too, they'll be highly motivated. I'm not going in there expecting that we're favourites.
"We're going to have to be at our best, like we were in the rounds [clash], to be in with a shot of making it straight into the grand final."