Australian media are referring to it as the "zero-to-hero" transformation: The Newcastle Jets have a chance to go from last place in the 2016-17 season to A-League champions when they play the Melbourne Victory on Saturday in the grand final.
The Jets could become the first team in 84 years to complete a move from last place to champion from one season to the next in any of Australia's four main football leagues.
The Australian Associated Press listed Western Suburbs' grand final win in 1934 in the old New South Wales Rugby League — the forerunner to the National Rugby League — as the last time a team had improved from last place to premiership winners in back-to-back seasons in any of what have become recognized as the top-flight domestic competitions in soccer, Australian rules football, rugby league or rugby union.
The Jets finished in second place during the regular season and beat Melbourne City 2-1 in the semifinals last weekend, while the Victory beat first place and defending champion Sydney FC 3-2 in extra time.
Here are some other things to know about Australian soccer's grand final:
ANYBODY GOT A TICKET?
Tickets at the 30,000-seat McDonald Jones Stadium at Newcastle, 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Sydney, quickly sold out, and many Newcastle club members missed out. Fairfax Media on Wednesday reported that tickets which sold for 150 Australian dollars ($120) were being illegally resold for as much as A$1,277 ($1,028). While the National Rugby League and Australian Football League usually hold their grand finals at large stadiums in Sydney and Melbourne, respectively, the A-League allows the highest-ranked team in the final to host the game. So while it's not ideal as far as stadium size goes, no local fan who has a ticket in Newcastle on Saturday evening will be complaining.
The Jets haven't appeared in a grand final since 2008, when they won their only A-League title. The Victory are regulars in finals, playing in their sixth and looking for their fourth championship. The Jets hold the edge in matches this season, winning 4-1 and 2-0 at Newcastle and losing 2-1 in Melbourne.
Newcastle forward Riley McGree, an Australian on loan from Belgium's Club Brugge, will have a tough time matching his stunning performance in the Jets' semifinal win. McGree scored the equalizer in the 57th minute with what some commentators described as the greatest goal in the A-League's history, a scorpion kick .
The scorpion-kick goal — recently made famous by players like Olivier Giroud and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the English Premier League — involves a player clipping the ball with an outstretched leg from behind their body, with the leg making the shape of a scorpion's tail.
"It is a bit instinctive. You have to have a bit of improvisation," the 19-year-old McGree said at training Wednesday.
Soccer's international governing body tweeted a video of McGree's goal, indicating it could be considered for the Puskas Award, FIFA's goal of the year.
CHANCE FOR REDEMPTION
Newcastle's Daniel Georgievski, then playing for the Victory, was voted player of the match in a losing cause when Sydney FC won on penalties in the grand final last year. He left the Victory for the Jets, and says he'll gladly swap any individual honors for a league title with Newcastle.
"You want to win the final for the club," Georgievski said. "That's the main thing, that's where the excitement comes. An individual award doesn't really mean that much if your team has lost."