It's taken a long time for Patrick Dangerfield to appear in an AFL grand final.
After 13 seasons and 268 games, the Geelong star finally graced a premiership decider against Richmond at the Gabba on Saturday.
Sadly for the 30-year-old, his big day ended sourly with the Tigers claiming a 31-point win over the Cats for their third flag in four years.
"It's why you play the game," Dangerfield said.
"It's the greatest day and the most devastating all in one."
Much of the talk in the build-up to the match had been on the heavyweight battle between Dangerfield and Richmond's Dustin Martin.
While Dangerfield landed some early blows, including his 300th AFL goal in a second quarter where the Cats raced to a 22-point lead at one stage, it was Martin who claimed a knockout win.
A four-goal display to lead the Tigers' second-half comeback secured Martin's status as the greatest grand final player in AFL history with a record third Norm Smith Medal.
"He was incredible. He's a champion of our game and he was dominant," Dangerfield said.
"That's what the great players do and they perform when the stakes are at their highest and he's done that so consistently over the last few years."
While the pain of falling at the final hurdle is still raw for both Dangerfield and his teammates, he's confident the wait for his second grand final appearance will not be anywhere near as long as it was for his first.
"We're bitterly disappointed, but we had a great run, we just couldn't quite execute when it mattered most," he said.
"Whilst we're incredibly disappointed, Richmond were fantastic.
"We'll learn a lot from it. We're down, not out. We'll regroup."
Australian Associated Press