IT'S impossible to console someone whose dream has just been obliterated, but in the Hawthorn change rooms after Saturday's game, coach Alastair Clarkson told his shattered players that if you want to actually experience triumph, you are probably going to have to experience heartbreak. They need only to look at Nick Malceski to see the proof.
It was fitting Malceski kicked the goal that would seal the Swans' victory with just 34 seconds remaining. It's not the first time he has booted the final goal of a grand final, it was just that last time in 2006, he ended feeling how the Hawks do now.
Anyone who knows Malceski's story would not begrudge him stealing the magic final moment of the grand final. A quick glance at his resume: knee reconstruction in 2004, an emergency for the flag-winning 2005 grand final team, a member of the 2006 team that lost by one point, knee reconstruction in 2008, another in 2011. Yet he refused to surrender, and on Saturday the reward finally arrived.
''The emotion and joy and everything that went with it. I can't explain how good this feeling is. Everything I've been through, I've done my knee three times and it all just does not matter now,'' Malceski said. ''This is just the pinnacle … I couldn't ask for anything more.''
While he underwent conventional knee surgery in 2004, in 2008, after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in a pre-season game, Malceski tried the revolutionary LARS surgery and was back on the park by round eight.
''No, I never thought about quitting,'' he was asked. ''The club had faith in me and I worked really hard.
''But I could not give a rats about my knees at the moment, all I'm worried about is the cup, and this gold medal symbolises everything.''
As a defender he doesn't get too many goals, but he added to the four he had already kicked in 2012 with a pair on Saturday, the first a miracle goal that had no right to sail through, and then the one that shut the door on the Hawks.
''It was good kicking the sealer,'' he said. ''I don't know what I was doing down in the forward 50 … I knew there wasn't much time left and when Hanners [Dan Hannebery] flicked it out to me.
''I think I fumbled it a bit and then kicked it out of mid-air and I was just hoping it would get the distance … It felt like an eternity [before it went through],'' Malceski added.