Andrew Mackie ended his outstanding AFL playing career musing on the fine line between exhilaration and desolation.
Mackie and fellow Geelong defender Tom Lonergan were cheered off Adelaide Oval after their preliminary-final loss to the Crows.
They are revered at Geelong – as people, even more so than as footballers.
A small group of Cats officials and supporters clapped Mackie as he hugged his parents Mark and Joanne in the rooms afterwards.
But this was not how Mackie thought it would end.
He was asked where thought Geelong needed to improve after successive preliminary final losses.
“It’s a good question – it’s all pretty raw right now,” he said.
“A couple of hours ago, you’re believing you have a premiership group here.
“And it can happen pretty quick.”
But after the 61-point loss, Mackie has faith the Cats will find a way.
“We have the right people at the footy club to send us on our next journey – great leaders around the place,” he said.
“It’s a great place to work.
“Clearly, in the last couple of years, we’ve come short – there’s work to do.”
The All Australian played 280 games and was a key member of the Cats’ backline in their three premierships between 2007 and 2011.
Asked to reflect on his career, again Mackie struggled to go past what had just happened.
“It’s a hard one right now,” he said.
“All you can do is try your best … and I have, every time.
“Sometimes, it might not look like it from the outside, but I’m sure I’ve heard that before.
“You try and prepare yourself as best you can, you try and learn every day, you try and listen to people, you try and make people coming to work – that’s what I’ve tried to do.
“It hasn’t always worked out, but that’s part of the game.”
Mackie said the part he had loved most about his AFL career was the people he had met.
But he kept coming back to the most-challenging part – that fine line.
“They (premierships) are not easy to win … unfortunately not for us this year – we had our dream ripped apart,” he said.