Inside the euphoric Hawthorn rooms, the two players that had AFL premiership medals around their necks for the first time were among the most deserving winners.
Ryan Schoenmakers and James Frawley produced stand-out performances in the Hawks’ 46-point victory over West Coast.
On a day when Alastair Clarkson’s team had few losers, the pair were two of the biggest winners.
For many years, Schoenmakers was the Hawks’ ugly duckling.
In years gone past, he couldn’t find a way into the Hawks’ star-studded attack, instead thrown down back as an undersized defender, and often taken apart.
But the 24-year-old shone in the Hawks’ stunning success, with as many score assists as anyone else on the ground, relentless pressure all day and the match’s best mark.
By the fourth quarter, every Hawthorn fan at the MCG was a convert, giving him the warmest of cheers with the match won.
“I noticed a bit of a roar … to be honest I was still focused so hard on the game I didn’t want to let anything slip,” he said.
“I was in the zone for the whole time, it wasn’t really until the last ten minutes where I started to enjoy it and take it in.”
For Frawley, who controversially swapped success-starved Melbourne for Hawthorn 12 months ago, the long wait to taste finals success was worth it.
Frawley’s shut-down job on Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy helped keep the lid on West Coast’s famed attacking prowess.
Like Schoenmakers, he said he was struck by the enormity of the occasion in time-on.
“The last ten minutes, I wasn’t really concentrating that much,” he said.
“I was looking around at the crowd, trying to soak it up and the boys pulled me into line saying ‘what are you doing mate?’
“I lost a bit of focus, but it’s unreal, an unreal feeling, I couldn’t be happier.”
The first-time winners celebrated heartily on the final whistle, but Schoenmakers saved his biggest embrace for his coach Alastair Clarkson, the man who had many times omitted him, but always believed in him.
It might not have been for the South Australian, who came within a hair’s breadth of joining Adelaide at the same time as Frawley joined the Hawks.
He suggested the victory was vindication for the decision.
“It was great in the end to get that reward and really celebrate with Clarko,” he said.
“He said if I wanted to be part of success, I’d have to do the hard yards over the season and really prove myself.
“He’s a passionate man, he’s brutally honest at times but that’s what you need.”