This time last year, Brian Lake's AFL premiership dream seemed as remote as ever.
He'd spent grand final day in the stands, drinking with mates.
"I was probably blind up in the second level," Lake recalls.
As a then-30-year-old, his career, which included All Australian selection in 2009-10, and the prospects of the Western Bulldogs, with which he'd played 197 games including three losing preliminary finals in 2008-10, both seemed on the slide.
But wearing a premiership medal, a Norm Smith Medal and a Hawthorn jumper last night, even he was stunned at how things have changed.
"This time last year I was sitting in the grandstand watching the game," he said.
"It's amazing, 365 days later you achieve what you've wanted to do since you first started playing AFL football and win a premiership.
"I've got to thank Hawthorn for that."
Lake called it a courageous decision by the Hawks to trade for him and said his first reaction was to hit the gym and ensure he started his new AFL life in slimmer, fitter shape.
The Hawks had desperately needed a reliable big defender.
Lake says he needed a change just as much.
"When you're at one place for such a long time you get comfortable in the surroundings and with yourself," he said.
Not that he's cut his emotional ties to the Dogs.
He received many well- wishes from ex-teammates and Bulldogs fans in the lead-up to the grand final.
"When you play at a club for 11 years, I put my heart and soul into the club at that stage, so they're very willing to give me a lot of support, which is great," Lake said.
Former teammate Adam Cooney, with whom he remains close, was cheering him on yesterday and visited the rooms to congratulate him post-match.
"He probably got a little bit emotional," Lake said.
"It's actually the first time I saw him have a little tear in his eye.
"He didn't cry with his kids, but cried when I won a premiership," he teased.
"Friendship like that is unbelievable."