IT doesn't matter if you're the best team all season unless you can get it done on grand final day.
Bad luck comes in threes ... or insert your own cliche here.
Port United's premiership drought will extend into a second decade after they suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 Football Mid North Coast Premier League first grade grand final loss to Wallis Lake on penalties on Saturday.
Despite leading twice in regulation time, United couldn't hang on to end a title-less run that extends back to 2000.
Lakies striker Roan Whiteman was ultimately the difference, scoring a hat-trick to take the game to the penalty spot after 110 minutes.
Fittingly, his final kick of the game provided the final dagger through United hearts.
United captain Simon Granfield opened the scoring in the 13th minute before Whiteman put the visitors back on level terms not even 60 seconds later.
Matt Bale put the Green Bloods' noses back in front from the penalty spot after 27 minutes before Whiteman again equalised in the 65th minute to send the game to two extra periods of 10 minutes.
I feel we were the benchmark all season and lost one game (before the grand final) ... it's cruel.- Port United captain Simon Granfield
Whiteman then looked like handing Wallis the premiership when he found the back of the net with eight minutes remaining of extra-time before Adam Woonton equalised for United one minute later.
The heartbreaking loss sent Granfield into retirement on a cruel note.
"I feel we were the benchmark all season and lost one game (before the grand final) ... it's cruel," he said.
The grand final defeat mirrored 2014 and 2017 defeats to the Forster-based side on the biggest day of the year.
"We didn't play our best footy and Wallis Lake have always had the wood on us and once again they probably wanted it a little bit more," Granfield said.
United's normally watertight defence that had only shipped eight goals in 18 games was shaky in the match that counted the most.
"We'd built our season on defence and we only bled eight goals all season so to concede three in one game is a big hit for us," Granfield said.
"For them to score three... they deserve that premiership."
Letting in three goals was nearly half our season count for the year and that was where we let it slip.- Port United coach Nathan Wade
Granfield admitted Whiteman again lived up to his billing as a "big game player".
"He's done that to us season after season," he said.
"When it comes to the crunch he's been the guy that has pinched the goals."
United coach Nathan Wade echoed his captain's thoughts and was disappointed their defence was not as strong as it had been all season.
"Letting in three goals was nearly half our season count for the year and that was where we let it slip," Wade said.
"I thought our midfield ran their hearts out; Simon never stopped the whole game and Josh Casey was good."
United will have to dust themselves off and go again in 2020 for the new Coastal Premier League.
They have no choice.
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, SIGN UP HERE.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.