McVeigh savours AFL flag

Sydney co-captain Jarrad McVeigh stood on the MCG, sleeping baby daughter Lolita in his arms and an AFL premiership medallion around his neck.

Amid the ongoing grief of the last year, this was a moment of sheer bliss.

“It’s unbelievable. After the year I’ve had, it doesn’t get any better,” Jarrad told the AFL website.

Jarrad and his wife Clementine have been through a tumultuous 13 months.

Their first-born daughter Luella died in August last year of a heart condition.

Lolita-Luella was born in July this year.

When Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson spoke of keeping their grand final loss in perspective, he referred to the McVeighs losing Luella.

Lolita attended her first AFL match on Saturday and her dad marked the moment with two goals and his first AFL premiership.

Jarrad’s brother Mark, who played for Essendon and retired at the end of this season, was among family and friends who celebrated the win with the McVeighs in the Swans change rooms.

Sydney coach John Longmire paid tribute to his captain’s resilience and noted how teammates such as fellow skipper Adam Goodes and Jude Bolton had helped McVeigh through the past year.

McVeigh, 27, has played 194 games for Sydney since making his AFL debut in 2004.

The hard-nosed midfielder enjoyed a consistent finals series and had 21 disposals in Saturday’s grand final.

McVeigh became one of Sydney’s captains last year and he is one of the custodians of their famed “Bloods” culture – a team-first ethos that was critical in the upset grand final win over Hawthorn.

As he celebrated with fans on Sunday morning at Melbourne’s Lakeside Oval, McVeigh spoke of the celebrations to come and of the great spirit in the team.

“It’s the strength of this squad, they never give up, they showed tremendous heart and it’s just going to be an unbelievable ride over the next few months,” he said.

And it all pales into insignificance, compared to what the McVeighs have been through.

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