Could this be the year for Hastings Rugby and Sports as it zeroes in on tomorrow's Maddison Trophy final against Napier side Taradale?
It's certainly theirs on a sentimental basis for those who reckon the near century-old trophy for Hawke's Bay's Premier-grade club rugby championship should be shared around a bit.
In the 32 years since the first time finals were used to decide the winners, Hastings R&S have been there just three times, beaten twice, including last year and with their sole triumph being a half-share in a 15-15 draw in 1999 with Clive.
By contrast, Taradale have played in the final 15 times, sharing the honour of most wins (seven) with Havelock North, the last of which was, to the surprise of some of club rugby's closest followers, 11 years ago.
Taradale won finals in 1993, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2009 and claimed the silverware several times previously in its days as the Napier-Hastings senior championship trophy, which was decided each year on round-robin results, without a final.
Hastings were beaten only in extra time last year as Napier OBM won the final for a third time in four years. Taradale's last Maddison Trophy final was in 2014. Each club won eight and lost one during the round-robin stages this year, Hastings beating Taradale 35-10 and ultimately topping the table by 2 points.
A win for the Hastings club – a 1995 merger of the Hastings HSOB and Hastings Celtic clubs, which operated as neighbours at the now long-gone Nelson Park – would be a particularly sweet moment for the supporters, possibly the longest-serving stalwart of whom at the park will be Hastings president Andy Joseph.
Aged 80 and with service dating back to playing days with Celtic in the 1960s, he is not the type who might be all teary and emotional when that winning try is scored, or when the first five or fullback kicks the ball backwards into touch to bring the match to an end.
"This team's come of age," he says. "The backs are quite good. They've learnt the art of passing the ball."
That is, after all, what it's all about, but grand finals are different beasts, and, having seen a few triumphs as a coach through the grades over the years, he says: "I've been there done that many times. You get used to it, but it's finals day: So long as you've done your best."
Club stalwart and administrator Jack Sanders, originally from the Hastings HSOB side of the equation, said despite the limitations imposed by Covid-19, good support is expected as the club ventures – supporters' bus and all – for not only the trophy final starting at 3pm but also the Colts final for the Pat Ryan Memorial Cup, between Hastings R&S and Napier Tech, starting at 1pm.
A strength of the Premier side is the leadership of coaches Sione Cherrington-Kite, Andrew Hui and Bevan Lynch, and co-captains Jacob Devery and Jason Long, and Sanders says: "They've come together well as a team."
Some may see a victory as the ultimate consummation of the club, which was near-unanimously endorsed by members 25 years ago, despite the historic rivalry.
The merger of Napier clubs Napier HSOB and Marist Brothers Old Boys – winners of the first two finals in 1988 and 1988 respectively - was probably the catalyst, he says, but there were "a lot of friendships" among members across the boundaries.
In effect, the compensation was complete in 2011, when the merged club opened new clubrooms at Elwood Rd, but the game, after all, is on the field.
"We need to get the monkey off our back," he says, "but we respect Taradale."
As it happens, one of the first captains of Hastings R&S was Tim Combs, the Taradale coach aiming to get his club's name on the silverware again, and stretch the winning streak by clubs from the old Napier sub-union to a sixth year.
The Maddison Trophy was first presented in 1927 for athletics competition among Napier and Hastings rugby clubs and was not presented as a rugby championship trophy until 1933, to the winner of the Napier-Hastings senior championship.
There were separate competitions in the other sub-unions of the Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union, in Wairoa, Central Hawke's Bay and Dannevirke.
Competitions were round-robin only, and it was not until 1988 that a grand final was first played.
The Reserve grade final will be between Napier clubs Maraenui and Napier OBM will be played at Park Island, Napier, where the Division 3 final will also be played, between Hastings clubs Bridge Pa and Flaxmere.
In the Senior 2 grade, Otane have a home semifinal against Waipukurau club Central, while round-robin winners Aotea host Waipawa Country United in the other semifinal in Dannevirke.
Results of the 32 Maddison Trophy finals:
1988: Napier HSOB 19 Technical 18.
1989: Marist 28 Taradale 10.
1990: Technical 27, Marist 9.
1991: Havelock North 31 Technical 6.
1992: Technical 30 Havelock North 18.
1993: Taradale 35 Havelock North 18.
1994: Clive 23 Taradale 10.
1995: Havelock North 30 Taradale 8.
1996: Havelock North 20 Clive 13.
1997: Taradale 16 Havelock North 15.
1998: Taradale 5 Havelock North 0.
1999: Hastings Rugby and Sport 15 Clive 15 (title shared)
2000: Clive 17 Taradale 11.
2001: Napier Old Boys Marist 22 Havelock North 21.
2002: Napier Old Boys Marist 24 Taradale 11.
2003: Taradale 24 Havelock North 11.
2004: Napier Pirates 24 Napier Old Boys Marist 15.
2005: Napier Pirates 30 Havelock North 28.
2006: Taradale 23 Havelock North 11.
2007: Taradale 25 Havelock North 18.
2008: Havelock North 31 Clive 13.
2009: Taradale 18 Napier Pirates 10.
2010: Havelock North 53 Taradale 10.
2011: Napier Pirate 21 Havelock North 14.
2012: Havelock North 26 Hastings Rugby and Sports 13.
2013: Technical 17 Napier Old Boys Marist 8.
2014: Havelock North 37 Taradale 12.
2015: Napier Pirate 19 Havelock North 16.
2016: Napier Old Boys Marist 41 Taradale 8.
2017: Napier Old Boys Marist 31 Clive 26.
2018: Clive 37 Napier Old Boys Marist 7
2019: Napier Old Boys Marist 43 Hastings Rugby and Sports 24.
2020: Hastings Rugby and Sports v Taradale ?