It was the fairytale Richmond small forward and Ballarat boy Dan Butler never even dreamt of.
Richmond claimed the 2017 AFL premiership with a stunning 48-point upset victory over Adelaide on Saturday.
The rampant Tigers brought a ferocity and intense pressure that has become its trademark this season, but going all the way to the AFL’s holy grail was something Butler never anticipated when he and his teammates began this year’s campaign.
The Tigers came from 13th last season to win the flag, while for Butler, a spot in the best 22 was the pre-season goal. Yet, as the season wore on he became an integral part of Richmond’s elite pressure and its unorthodox but effective small forward line.
Richmond buried its final demons this season and broke a 37-year premiership drought at the ‘G on Saturday.
"It's unbelievable, it still feels like a dream, I'm still pinching myself,” Butler said.
"I could not have dreamt it up at the start of the year, but I couldn't be happier with how the year's panned out.”
Butler paid tribute to his his former clubs that had helped him throughout his career.
Lake Wendouree was his junior club before becoming involved with the North Ballarat Rebels TAC Cup system while his school St Patrick’s College, where he won a number of Herald Sun Shields, will always hold special meaning to Butler.
He said all three clubs were instrumental in not only his journey to the elite level, but shaping him as a person.
"Both the Lake Wendouree Football Club and the Rebels have had a huge impact.”
“I couldn't thank them enough for what they've done for me and my school as well, St Pat's, under Howard Clark, he's been unbelievable – I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn't for them.
"Not only football, but for shaping me as the person I am today.”
Butler had nine disposals, four tackles and capped his day with a goal in time-on of the final term.
I could not have dreamt it up at the start of the year...I'm still pinching myself.Richmond premiership player Dan Butler