ONLY Kane Mitchell will play on Sunday who was there last time Claremont reached a WAFL Grand Final, but the Claremont skipper knows all about delivering on the big stage and he can't wait to take advantage of being fresh heading into the decider.
Claremont is preparing for its first WAFL Grand Final since 2012 when it heads to Fremantle Community Bank Oval this Sunday to take on South Fremantle in front of a sold out crowd of more than 10,000 people.
Back in that 2012 Grand Final at Subiaco Oval, Claremont was right in the middle of a dominant period where they were about to play in a third straight premiership decider and about to claim a back-to-back flag in a stretch of finishing on top of the ladder four years straight from 2010-13.
And Mitchell was at the centre piece of everything for the Tigers during the four-year period where he would cement himself as the hardest-running player in the competition, and ultimately the best player by 2012 when he won the Sandover Medal.
So by the time he was celebrating the 2012 premiership, he had two flags to his name along with being a fairest and best winner, and Sandover Medallist to bang down the door for an AFL opportunity where he went on to play 35 matches with Port Adelaide over four years.
While Claremont still did finish as minor premiers without him in 2013, the Tigers didn’t make a Grand Final and they haven’t been in one until this Sunday now and Mitchell is one of just two players with previous experience on the big day in the side.
Ryan Nyhuis is the other after playing in Peel Thunder's back-to-back flags in 2016 and 2017.
Claremont earned the weekend off while South Fremantle battled West Perth in the preliminary having beaten the Bulldogs by 47 points in the second semi-final also held at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
Mitchell embraced the week off but now can't wait for Sunday to come around and the Grand Final to get underway.
"I love talking about Grand Finals and I'm just really excited about Sunday. I want it to be here already and it can't come soon enough," Mitchell said.
"For me particularly being one of the elder statesmen it's really nice to have another week off. It has been really enjoyable to secure our spot in the Grand Final and be able to enjoy that week, and manage our loading as best we can.
"Last week we tried to keep a lid on it the best we could and we still had our reserves to make it through, and it was really positive for them to get the win on the weekend. To be able to manage our load over the weekend was a really positive thing."
Going back to that period when Claremont was dominating the WAFL and Mitchell was playing such brilliant football to rack up the flags, individual accolades and earn an AFL opportunity, and you could clearly see it was all down to the dedication to his football.
You don’t become the hardest running and fittest player in the competition through anything but sheer hard work, and going back to that period it was a time when Mitchell admits to living and breathing football while letting nothing get in the way.
His life has a bit more of a balance now, but at the same time hard work is behind his ball winning and tackling pressure he continues to do brilliantly at, and while the wait hasn’t quite been as long for him now as a result, he is taking his leadership responsibility seriously.
"When I was young back in 2012 I was just all about footy, and for those two years the breaks off before the Grand Finals were the longest ones ever," Mitchell said.
"I didn’t have a job or anything to distract me, and all my thinking was about footy but this year I've tried to be a bit more relaxed and be a bit more of a leader as the captain.
"I've tried to share my experiences with the younger guys and I still do obviously focus on footy so it has been a long week but I'm hoping Sunday gets here sooner rather than later."
The week off for the body of a 30-year-old Mitchell might be something he has embraced too and there's certainly no feeling that it means less just because the WAFL season was a shorter one.
Considering Claremont's bye didn’t come until Round 9 it meant the Tigers had played eight straight matches on top of the pre-season and intra club games so they were crying out for a break, and then the break in preliminary final week was welcomed as well.
The week off might also give enough time for Anton Hamp to get himself fit, it gave Tom Lee another week to find form in the reserves and then for veterans like Mitchell and Haydn Busher, they certainly didn’t complain about getting the chance to freshen up for the Grand Final.
"I think Haydn Busher and I were looking back at how many games in-a-row we'd played and including scratch matches it was about 11," he said.
"Usually you'd only have about eight in a normal season. So to have that week off it has definitely freshened the boys up after so many weeks in-a-row so hopefully we can take advantage of it."
Given Claremont did play so well against South Fremantle two weeks ago at Fremantle Community Bank Oval by 47 points to book in their Grand Final spot, Mitchell just hopes they can replicate everything about that two weeks later.
It has the real prospect of not only being a winning day for Claremont's league side, but the reserves and colts are also in the Grand Final so they could come away from the port with three premierships.
"Two weeks ago in the first final our pressure was elite and we want to emulate that again. We are expecting a really tough and tight contest, but whoever wins the midfield battle I think will have the upper hand throughout the day," Mitchell said.
"Nothing really changes for us, it's all about fight and energy and the hunt, and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.
"Hopefully it's a really good day for our footy club. It would be a massive achievement for the club to get all three and to win a premiership with all of them.
"I think the club at the moment is showing the culture that we've got from Harro at the top down to the colts coming through with Macca coaching our reserves side. It's a very special place at the moment and hopefully Sunday is a day to go into the history books for us."