Premiership-winning captain Easton Wood wasn’t able to play in a grand final win with his AFL soulmate Bob Murphy.
But lifting the cup together was the next best thing.
When playing together, the defenders were never far apart.
And when Murphy’s knee injury ruled him out of the 2016 season, elevating Wood to the captaincy, the pair became even closer.
Wood and Murphy consolidated a special bond through the season as the club’s elder statesman nurtured his apprentice from the sidelines.
Before coach Luke Beveridge brought the house down with his magnanimous gifting of his premiership medal to Murphy, Wood stole the show with a tearful embrace with the injury-stricken skipper.
After the match, the 27-year-old needed time to compose himself when asked about Murphy’s place in his life.
He said being able to lift the premiership cup together was the stuff of dreams.
“We’ve come a long way in this football club. A lot of it has been because of his guidance,” he said.
“He took over the job with very stormy waters and he steered us out of it.
“He’s very close to me. I just love him.
“It breaks my heart he couldn’t be out there. But to hold it up with him was very, very special.”
Wood wasn’t a standout in the 22-point win on Saturday, but used the ball well and tallied six one-percenters, typifying the Bulldogs’ hard-nosed approach.
He said being able to repay the faith of supporters and club staff made the day the best of his life.
“So many people have put so much on the line. It’s the best feeling ever.”
Like Murphy, Wood is one of the few survivors of the club’s last preliminary-final loss in 2010.
After his side emerged with the biggest lead of the match in the fourth term, the Bulldogs’ coaching staff ran to the boundary line to celebrate.
The club’s 62-year wait to hoist the premiership cup was soon to be broken, but Wood said he didn’t shift his focus until the siren blew.
“Those last couple of minutes, you think ‘we’re going to get over the line’ but you don’t let it sink in,” he said.
“This club has had a lot of heartbreak in tight moments. We fought it out right to the end and brought it home.”