IT'S impossible to console someone whose dream has just been obliterated.
However, in the Hawthorn change rooms after Saturday's game, coach Alastair Clarkson told his shattered players that if you want to experience triumph, at some stage you probably have to experience heartbreak. They need only to look at Nick Malceski to see the proof.
It was fitting Malceski was on the spot to kick the goal that sealed the Swans' 10-point victory with just 34 seconds left. It's not the first time he has booted the final goal of a grand final, but 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 moment of the grand final.
A quick glance at his resume: knee reconstruction in 2004, an emergency for the winning 2005 grand final team but didn't get a game, a member of the 2006 team that lost by one point, knee reconstruction in 2008, knee reconstruction last year. Yet he has refused to surrender and on Saturday the reward finally arrived.
''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, the absolute pinnacle, and I couldn't ask for anything more. It's hard to explain the joy and emotion going through my head. I've been through a fair bit in my 10 years at the Swans. I'm just rapt they had faith in me and this moment right now is unbelievable.''
While he went with conventional knee surgery in 2004, after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in a pre-season game in 2008, Malceski tried the revolutionary ligament augmentation and reconstruction system surgery that used synthetic ligaments. As a result, what was normally a year-ending injury meant he was back on the park by round eight. He walked a similar path last year.
As a defender Malceski does not get too many goals, but he got a pair on Saturday, the first a miracle goal and then the one that shut the door on the Hawks.
''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,'' he said. ''It felt like an eternity [before it went through].''