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Gutsy skipper McVeigh leaves nothing in the tank

Date

Michael Cowley

Flag bearers … co-captains Adam Goodes and Jarrad McVeigh lift the premiership cup.

Flag bearers … co-captains Adam Goodes and Jarrad McVeigh lift the premiership cup. Photo: Joe Armao

JARRAD McVEIGH had a long wait. Each of his teammates in numerical order was called to the stage to collect their winners' medals. He wears No.3, but as captain, he was saved until last.

''I just continued to look around the ground at the massive crowd, they were so loud,'' he said. ''I was just loving every moment when every player went up to collect his medal. It was such a great thing to see the enjoyment and the happiness that they were each showing, then it was just an amazing thing for me to be able to hold up the cup.

''It wasn't a moment I had dreamt about. You don't want to think about it … but you do, and it was truly a moment I will never ever forget. Now I just want to see the replay of the game just to soak it all up and see what happened. A lot of it is a blur.''

What was almost also a blur for McVeigh were the celebrations. After giving absolutely everything, then collecting the cup, doing a lap of honour, it hit him when the team came back into the change rooms. As they sang the team song with incredible gusto, McVeigh started to look ''off''.

As the song finished, he was helped by Swans staff to one of the back rooms. ''I actually nearly fainted there,'' he explained. ''I was just really dehydrated. I had just tried to give everything I could give in that game and I think it just all caught up with me there for a moment. I had a bit of a lie down and got some water into me, and I was back, fine after that, ready to celebrate.''

Grand finals are always emotional afternoons, and tears flowed for McVeigh yesterday. When the siren sounded he just happened to be near Nick Malceski. The pair - along with Ted Richards - were members of the losing 2006 grand final team, but not in the winning team of the year before. It had been a long wait for redemption.

''It was funny how it ended up, things just fell into place,'' McVeigh said. ''I had just turned around and saw Mal there and we started crying and started rolling around on the ground, and it was that moment and that five minutes after that was just unbelievable. You can't explain the happiness. It was just a feeling I want to have more and more of.''

If he wasn't bubbling with emotion before, soon after McVeigh turned around and saw his wife, Clementine, and his baby girl, Lolita, on the ground. ''It was great,'' he said. ''I don't know how she got on the field but she got there somehow. Just to see them and give them a kiss … All the players' families, wives and girlfriends, they are a part of this, and to share a moment with your family at the time like that, when you have reached the pinnacle of your sport, it's a memory I'll never forget.''

While they do have a couple of elderly statesmen on the roster, McVeigh pointed out they also had many young players who were a part of Saturday's win, plus some more promising talent coming through, signalling it augurs well.

At the SCG yesterday, he got to soak up more of the grand final experience when the team was welcomed home by fans. It had been a crazy 24 hours, and it had not sunk in.

''It's still hard to believe it,'' he said. ''I'm sure it will take a few days. It will be good to sit around with the boys and take a moment. Maybe in a week's time I think it will really hit then, exactly what we have done.''

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