He may only be 19 years old, but Jeremy Woodford shapes as a key figure in the Tigers' aspirations as they continue preparations for Saturday's AFL South Coast grand final against Figtree.
The midfielder knows his club better than most, having spent the past decade working his way through Northern Districts' junior and senior ranks. His journey at Norths began nearly a decade ago. He played through several junior grades before getting his opportunity with the club's senior association four years ago.
As Woodford refined his craft, the Tigers also continued to take an extra step forward each season. Norths narrowly missed out in finals in 2020, before the 2021 campaign was cut short to due to COVID.
Last year, the Tigers were then just one game away from booking their ticket to the grand final. However, they ensured that history wouldn't repeat in 2023, advancing to the decider with a 22-point win over the Wollongong Bulldogs last Saturday.
Woodford was named among Norths' best on ground after the victory.
"I'm very excited to be playing in the grand final. Being part of the club for 10 years now, I've only been part of two - and they were both in juniors. So it's been a long time coming. These opportunities don't come very often," Woodford told the Mercury.
"Last year, we made the prelim but fell short against the Dogs. However, our main focus was that we knew that we could bring it to those top teams. We started training last October and we set the standard from there. In terms of the structure and game plan this year, we've got that right and it's got us to where we are today.
"It's taken us a few years to get to where we are today, so it's about making sure we don't take a backward step at this stage of the season."
Advancing to the grand final also continues a dream season for first-year coaches Glenn Haase and Mick Montgomery, who took over the reins from long-term mentor Leigh Forsyth in April.
Woodford said Haase and Montgomery had played key roles in Norths' great form this year.
"They've been within the club for the last couple of years when Leigh was coaching and they've done a great job," he said.
"Leigh's helped them out a great lot as well, but to see them set the standard with the group that we've got this year shows that they're willing to go as far as they can to help push us to be the best that we can be."
However, standing in their way of a fairytale finish to 2023 is Men's Premier Division powerhouse Figtree. The Kangaroos are two-time defending premiers and will start as favourites when the sides meet at North Dalton Park on Saturday.
Figtree will be hungry to complete the premiership hat-trick, and Woodford knows that it will be difficult to stop them.
"I've got great respect for the club, they've set the benchmark for a number of years now. They're the club that we look to as the team that we want to be like," he said.
"In the two junior grand finals that I've played, we won one, and we lost one to Figtree. So they've been great within the seniors and juniors across my time playing."
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