Patrick Dangerfield spoke of bitterness, frustration and disappointment, only minutes after breaking records with his first AFL Brownlow Medal win.
While the Geelong star had one of the game’s most dominant individual seasons, it didn’t end with a premiership.
On Monday night he polled the most votes in Brownlow history (35) and picked up votes in the most games during a season (15).
Three nights earlier, Sydney had blown the Cats out of the water at the start of their preliminary final.
“Certainly as the years pass and you don’t experience the success you really crave, when it does all come to a screeching halt, you are bitter and disappointed and frustrated,” Dangerfield said.
“When I was first drafted, I didn’t totally understand it.
“I played finals in my first season and you don’t realise how hard it is to get there – how many opportunities you’ll get in a career.
“Nine years down and I’ve played in two losing preliminary finals.
“With all respect to the Brownlow Medal, the most important thing is and always will be team success.”
It was only halfway through Monday night’s count that Dangerfield was able to set aside his disappointment about the preliminary final loss.
Geelong’s seventh Brownlow Medallist was moved by a tribute during the function to their 1989 winner Paul Couch, who died in March of a heart attack.
“It hit me, what it would be like to be a Brownlow Medallist,” Dangerfield said in his acceptance speech.
“So Couchy – this one’s for you mate.”
Dangerfield blossomed this season after his high-profile move from Adelaide, combining superbly in the midfield with Cats captain Joel Selwood.
He noted Geelong had some big wins this year against the league’s best teams and is certain they can win the flag soon.
“It just feels that we had unfinished business in the season,” he said.
“I have no doubt our game style stands up.
“We just have to make sure we as players continue to implement it consistently and that’s what we didn’t do on Friday night.
“We will be a better team next year and I think that is simply because we’ve spent more time together..
“The more time we spend together, the better we will understand each other’s games.”