NATHAN Gudgeon was starting to think a senior premiership would forever elude him.
Season after season he had saddled up for Daylesford without the ultimate success, and during a four-year stint away at Learmonth, the club claimed its 2007 and 2009 flags.
Upon his return, the Bulldogs were beaten in both the 2010 and 2011 deciders.
But his luck changed on Saturday. And in a big way.
Gudgeon turned in a performance befitting a premiership, and was awarded the best on ground medal for his stellar contribution in defence.
“I got the feeling that am I ever going to be able to win one? Have I missed my opportunity? Did I do the wrong thing by leaving?” Gudgeon said.
“I’ve been playing 15 years and this is my first (premiership).
“I’ve been back for three years and lost two grand finals, but I wasn’t losing this one.”
Gudgeon, 33, said words couldn’t describe the feeling of Saturday’s grand final triumph.
“I’m a bit numb. I think it will sink in a little bit later on, but at the moment, I just can’t believe it has happened,” he said after the match.
“This year did have a bit of a different feel. The last two, going into them, we were definitely the underdogs and came up against two really good sides in Hepburn and Waubra that were probably far above everyone in those years.
“This year we worked really hard. We got together one night after we lost to Bungaree (round seven) and had a sports theme dress-up night.
“Ever since then we have been a tight unit and haven’t lost a game.”
Although his direct opponent Glen Phelps kicked four goals, Gudgeon still had a day out.
Deep in defence, he made spoil after spoil, took a stack of important marks and gave drive off a half back line under regular attack.
He also bobbed up for an important goal in the first term.
“That’s my third goal this year. You count them when you’re a backman - they don’t come very often,” Gudgeon joked.
“I was happy with my game because last time we played (Buninyong) and they beat us, (Phelps) kicked seven on me. I’m happy to turn that around and for him to kick four, and I also got one of my own.”