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Former rival teams unite to win fairytale football league grand final in Victoria
Kangas football team celebrate win with trophy
RELATED STORY: Rival country football teams unite to survive.
Two rival football teams in Victoria's Mallee region, that joined forces last year in an unpalatable amalgamation, have beaten the odds by winning this year's senior football league grand final.
Last Saturday, the Kangas — previously the Ouyen United Demons and Walpeup-Underbool Kangaroos — entered the Sunraysia Football League with little expectations and modest ambitions for the grand final against Mildura.
Despite being the clear underdogs, the Kangas defeated Mildura in a fairytale victory with a score of 16.10 (106) to 11.11 (77).
"Never ever thought the firsts would get where they are to the grand final. It's been fantastic," Ouyen fan Cath Monaghan told Landline.
The Mallee Football League was facing disbandment at the end of last season as a result of shrinking populations in the area, which had made it hard to get teams on the field.
But instead of disbanding, the country club joined forces with rival neighbours, Ouyen United.
Keeping the Ouyen United and the Kangaroos' colours, the team worked hard to focus on a united future and not their past.
Kangas with arms around each other and arms in the air celebrated.
Paying the price for country footy
Some country football clubs are struggling to keep afloat as their star young players leave for cashed up rivals.
With a strong wind at their back, the Kangas shocked the favourites by kicking nine goals in the opening quarter.
The Demons fought back and closed the gap to just three goals.
But the Kangas remained resilient and set up a thrilling final quarter.
Playing into the wind in the final term Ouyen held on for a 29 point victory sparking wild celebrations.
"Last year we were rivals, now we share a premiership medal and we'll be best mates for life now," Mr Vallance said.
It was not only a victory for Ouyen but a win for the Mallee as well, whose sparse population is bound by a shared passion for football.
"We've had some ordinary years in the past, [which makes] … it is so important for the football club to remain strong and be an outlet for people," Ouyen United president Jarrod Munro said.