BRUCE McAvaney is likely to be the only thing missing from Kyabram’s Recreation Reserve this Saturday.
When the Bombers’ juggernaut – which moved to 45 wins and zero losses with its clinical dispatch of Benalla at the weekend – hosts Echuca’s rejuvenated Murray Bombers.
Whose 2018 season stands at 3-0, it’s best for more than a decade (but game for game compared to Kyabram the reality is 19-20).
But neither team is the unit that finished first and well adrift.
Ky has lost some serious talent in the off season, recruited well but is still very different.
Echuca has gained some serious talent in the off season, recruited well and is very much better than its 2017 incarnation.
This game might have come earlier than football fans would like but it should still be massive.
The most perfect team in regional Victoria versus the rising talent of the Andrew Walker/Simon Buckley spearheaded wannabes.
One team has every reason to believe in its invincibility; the other has clearly gained great licks of self-belief in recent months – and demonstrated it in recent weeks.
Under lights at Victoria Park the Murray Bombers put Shepparton United away in a hard fought contest on Saturday.
Under any conditions, any time of the day or night, Kyabram buries sides.
This will be a test for the boys in bottle green whatever the result their progress demands it be close.
Victory would be the biggest story in the Goulburn Valley League for three seasons.
A close defeat would be a stark warning for Kyabram its days at the top may well be numbered.
A smashing loss (such as 2017’s 142-point humiliation when the sides last met) would jeopardise all the work by Walker and co-coach Simon Maddox, the new committee under Ash Byrne and the players from pre-season on.
Not to mention the morale of the club’s rejuvenated supporter base.
This is genuinely the best list the Murray Bombers have had in recent memory.
And those players have been performing.
They are more attacking and refusing to meekly go into their shells when the going gets tough.
Echuca wants to be known as the side that will be hard for anyone to beat.
Echuca have already come a long way down the road this season.
And now their road heads to Kyabram.