As a star AFL forward and St Kilda captain, Nick Reiwoldt led his team to within 16 points of an overwhelming comeback win.
As a brother and son, he found the day overwhelming.
Clearly hampered at times by a calf muscle injury as well, Riewoldt honoured his late sister Maddie as the Saints gave Richmond an almighty scare on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.
Riewoldt kicked the first of St Kilda’s six unanswered goals in the last term before the Tigers held on and won 13.11 (89) to 10.13 (73).
The game was a fundraiser for Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision, a foundation that aims to help those suffering from Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes.
Maddie was only 26 when she died from one of those syndromes in February.
The theme for the match was Fight Like Maddie.
Riewoldt and his cousin Jack, the Richmond spearhead, extensively promoted the cause in the leadup to this match.
Their efforts succeeded brilliantly – the crowd of 45,771 was the biggest at Etihad Stadium this season.
Despite his injury, Nick Riewoldt took nine marks and kicked 1.3 to be among the Saints’ best, while Jack kicked 2.4.
Nick and Maddie’s brother Alex and their parents Joe and Fiona were at the game.
“It’s been overwhelming – that’s probably the word,” the Saints skipper said.
“It’s been overwhelming in how all-consuming it’s been … the support (and) how it’s been embraced, how the concept and the MRV has been embraced.
“How well we’ve been supported as a family in the most difficult circumstance – but yeah, I’m pretty glad today is over, to be honest.”
Asked if he would have played in normal circumstances, given the state of his calf muscle, Nick replied “good question”.
But once he made it through Thursday training, Riewoldt was always going to play.
Also crucially, he did not re-injure the muscle during the match.
“He’s still our best player, he’s important to us,” Saints coach Alan Richardson said.
“But this was a bit more than that. This was about something that’s bigger than footy.”
While Richardson was disappointed with his players second and third quarters, he said the club could not be prouder of how they finished the game.
Not surprisingly, Tigers coach Damien Hardwick had mixed emotions about the win, given they were 52 points ahead at the last break.
“It was obviously very disappointing,” Hardwick said of the last term.
“They steamrolled us and got the ball moving forward with that run and carry out of the backline.
“We have spoken about the importance of this month from a football perspective and it just would have been nice to have good consistency of performance to finish off the game.
“You review the game in a different light.”
Brett Deledio starred for the Tigers with three goals and 28 disposals, while Saints midfielder David Armitage (28 possessions) again showed why he will win the club best and fairest award in a canter.