Tathra's football community was left shocked - ecstatically so - by a surprise announcement from the NRL Friday night.
The Tathra Sea Eagles Rugby League Football Club was announced as the National 2019 Grassroots Club of the Year, with several big name stars of the NRL dropping by training unannounced.
Former Raiders captains Alan Tongue and David Shillington, accompanied by home-town star Adam Elliott from the Bulldogs were smuggled into the Tathra Beach Country Club to make the announcement in front of a packed crowd, who had been lured there on the premise of a "sponsors night".
Even club president Peter Finucane was unaware of the NRL's award.
READ MORE: Tathra hoping to create football 'fairytale'
Club secretary David Porter, who has been instrumental in organising the very special night over the past two weeks while keeping the actual details secret, said he and the club were "absolutely on top of the world".
"Coming into the grand final it's great for the whole town, and it's an incredible honour to be part of that."
Mr Porter said it was his understanding Tathra was the unanimous choice of all the NRL executive in voting for the 2019 Grassroots Club of the Year, following the Sea Eagles' Country Rugby League's club of the year win.
"What's really exciting is it's something for the whole town to celebrate, not just the club and the players - it's for all of Tathra.
"There was enough of a struggle just to get the club up and running after the fire, the the way the town pulled together was incredible."
Mr Porter said it had been a "juggling act" to get the first grade side on the field and through to a grand final, with the club burning through much of its budget, so the NRL prize money "will be very well received as well".
2019 NRL Grassroots Club of the Year
NRL Community Awards acknowledge some of rugby league's unsung community heroes for the tireless work they do for the game they love.
The awards are an important way to recognise and celebrate a small number of many that make a positive difference within their communities.
In particular, the Grassroots Club of the Year Award is presented to a rugby league club that has fostered participation and enjoyment at all levels.
The nominated rugby league clubs are an integral part of their community and will have shown innovation in administration.
The winning rugby league club receives $5000 in prize money from Youi Insurance to put toward running costs and grassroots programs.
INTERACTIVE: How we got here - Group 16 journey to grand finals
In 2018, the Tathra Seniors had just re-joined the competition for the first time in four years - folding after being unable to field a team due to declining numbers.
As the Group 16 competition was about to kick off, the town was devastated by a major bushfire that destroyed around 70 homes and was declared a national emergency.
The club almost pulled out of the competition as the town came to grips with the extent of the damage, but amazingly the community gained strength from the bushfire and saw the junior and senior rugby league clubs unite.
The new combined club allowed many locals to rally around a common cause. As the 2019 season approached and the town was starting to rebuild, there was an influx of trade jobs that boosted employment in the area. This enabled many young people that had moved away to return home, many reconstructing their own families' homes.
This allowed Tathra to field first grade, reserve grade and league tag teams in 2019. The juniors proudly boast a team in every male and female age group, despite the town having fewer than 1500 residents.
Almost 80 per cent of the seniors' players are returning juniors who haven't played since their early years.
This season the club worked hard to re-embed itself within the community - creating a family atmosphere through social events and fundraisers at their Tathra Country Club and utilising the country club's resources to live stream games to fans across the country through Facebook and YouTube.
To cap off an incredible turnaround for Tathra, this year the first grade team has reached the Group 16 grand final, which they haven't won in 66 years.
They will take on minor premiership winners Bega Roosters this Sunday, September 15, at the Bega Recreation Ground. Click here for details